Scraping the barrels
America’s crude oil stockpile has fallen below 450 million barrels, marking its lowest level since 1984, as the Biden administration continues to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to alleviate the premium that Americans are paying at the pumps.
First introduced by President Ford in 1975 as a means of mitigating oil supply disruptions in the states, the SPR has functioned more recently as an American price-control tool following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Washington pledged to release an average of 1 million barrels of oil a day from the SPR over 6 months, in a plan to tackle rising gas prices which reached over $5-per-gallon earlier this year. Whilst multi-million barrel drawdowns aren’t uncommon — previous presidents have used the SPR as an emergency response to the Gulf War and Hurricane Katrina, for example — the stockpile is starting to strain under the weight of this cost-addressing roll out.
Critics argue that Biden’s bumper barrel release is a short-term fix for a wider structural issue, while others point to recently falling gas prices as proof that the drawdown was necessary.