Biden to announce the release of more oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve just weeks before midterms

According to senior administration officials, President Joe Biden will release 15 million additional barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to cut increasingly high gas and high energy prices.

Officials with the administration said the president would make the announcement soon, with less than three weeks before the November midterm elections. Biden will also provide details on a plan to refill the now-depleted emergency stash when prices dip to $67 to $72 per barrel.

Earlier, Biden announced he would release 180 million barrels from the SPR, with the White House saying the recent 15 million barrels would complete the commitment. President Biden’s use of the SPR, intended to be used in emergencies, has brought sharp criticism from outside observers who say the U.S. should only be utilized for emergencies like natural disasters and wars.

However, the White House argues that the releases are addressing issues related to international stability, claiming the SPR is in solid shape.

“Global crude oil supplies remain a challenge due in large part of the course of the ongoing stability caused by Russia’s action in Ukraine,” said a senior administration official. “The SPR still remains the largest strategic reserve with more than … 400 million barrels remaining. That is still a large amount of barrels,” said the senior administration official. “You’ll certainly see in the president’s remarks…that we remain, DOE remains, very able, very vigilant, if we need to deal with additional challenges with supply, with affordability, then we’ll have additional opportunity with the SPR.”

Administration officials say more SPR releases are possible

The official with the administration signaled that the president might not be done tapping into the reserve, saying that as the United States heads into winter, the administration might consider more oil releases.

“We’re going to use all the tools we have in the tool belt, and the SPR remains a very, very important tool. Not the tool we have, but it’s an important tool,” said the official. “If we need to authorize additional sales, significant additional sales…we’ll be prepared to do so.”

Senior administration officials say the president plans to refill the reserve — which has been reduced by over a third since he took office — and is working on a rule to allow “fixed price contracts,” ensuring the cost of oil to taxpayers is the same as when the commitment to buy the barrels is arranged.

The senior official said that refilling the SPR at a lower price point will give domestic energy producers the confidence to produce more. “The SPR will be part of helping to … moderate and stabilize price flows not only when prices are going high but when prices are going low,” said the official.

The announcement comes after OPEC+ announced it will cut 1 million barrels per day from its oil production, a move the Biden administration has criticized.