US to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve to ease energy costs

(iStock)

President Joe Biden this morning ordered 50 million barrels of oil released from the strategic reserve to help bring down energy costs, in coordination with other major energy consuming nations, including China, India and the U.K.

The move is aimed at global energy markets, but also at voters who are coping with higher inflation and rising prices ahead of Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel. Gas prices are at an average $3.40 a gallon, more than 50% higher than their price a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.

There was no discernable impact on the price for a benchmark barrel of U.S. crude after the announcement this morning. 

Biden has scrambled to reshape much of his economic agenda around the issue of inflation, saying that his recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure package will reduce price pressures by making it more efficient and cheaper to transport goods.

Republican lawmakers have hammered the administration for inflation hitting a 31-year high in October. The consumer price index soared 6.2% from a year ago—the biggest 12-month jump since 1990.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency stockpile to preserve access to oil in case of natural disasters, national security issues and other events. Maintained by the Energy Department, the reserves are stored in caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. There are roughly 605 million barrels of sweet and sour petroleum in the reserve. Read more.