The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) fell to 450 million barrels at its lowest level since 1984 in the week to Aug. 26, with the crude oil inventory falling by 3.1 million barrels, according to recently-published data from the Department of Energy.
In the first six months of the year, the administration sold off 125 million barrels of crude oil. The Department’s figures show that the 3.1-million-barrel draw was the smallest draw since the end of April.
As of Friday, the current inventory is standing at 450 million barrels. The White House emptied 18 million barrels of crude oil from the reserve in August after authorizing the sale of 20 million barrels in late July.
Since President Biden came into office, gasoline prices have soared significantly to $3.40 in 2021 from an average of $2.28 per gallon in December 2020. This June, the average gallon cost a record $5 with markets reeling from the conflict in Ukraine and the embargo on Russian oil imports he imposed.
However, had Biden not opened the reserve, prices would have climbed by an additional 40% per gallon, the Treasury Department estimated last month. According to live figures from the American Automobile Association on Monday, prices have returned to their February level of $3.85 now that nearly 150 million barrels of the reserve is sold.
It remains unclear for how much longer the Biden administration plans on draining the stockpile after selling off around a quarter of the US oil reserves this year.
While President Joe Biden has eaten into America’s emergency stocks to bring down gas prices, his administration announced last month that it has no plans to replenish stocks until after the 2023 financial year.
Nearly a million barrels of the oil released by Biden is going to a subsidiary of the Chinese firm Sinopec, and some were sold to foreign refiners. The subsidiary company is the same that previously received billions of dollars of investment from an equity fund part-owned by Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.