US Could Start Rebuilding Strategic Petroleum Reserve This Summer

May 15, 2023 by Dan McCue
US Could Start Rebuilding Strategic Petroleum Reserve This Summer

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that the U.S. could start repurchasing oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve once one last sale mandated by Congress is carried out next month.

“And it’s at that point where we will flip the switch and then seek to purchase” oil to refill the stockpile, she said.

Granholm’s statement came in response to a question at a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting on Thursday.

But it represented something of a change in tone from the energy secretary, who in public statements earlier this spring was both more cautious and less hopeful about a move to start refilling the reserve this year.

President Joe Biden ordered the sale of 180 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve last year to help drive down soaring retail gas prices caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The sales were the single largest drawdown in the history of the reserve, sending levels plummeting to a 40-year low.

The sale of another 26 million barrels of crude is slated to be completed in June. 

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, stored in huge underground salt caverns at four sites along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, with an authorized storage capacity of 714 million barrels. 

It was established primarily to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products and to carry out obligations of the United States under the international energy program. 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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