Congressional Mandate for Oil Sale
Consolidating 26 million barrels of crude is part of the congressionally mandated sale that lawmakers approved for the current fiscal year. The Energy Department has attempted to stop some of the sales required by 2015 legislation to refill the emergency reserve, which currently holds about 371 million barrels.
Refilling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
After the latest release of 26 million barrels of crude, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is expected to dip to about 345 million barrels. Last year, Biden officials decided to tap 180 million barrels from the strategic oil reserve to lower prices after Russia invaded Ukraine and sent crude surging above $100 a barrel. Critics have criticized the Biden administration for this decision, which was the biggest release ever and drained the SPR to its lowest level since 1983.
Future Plans for Refilling the SPR
Biden officials have spoken with energy companies about purchasing oil to refill the SPR when oil prices approach $70 a barrel. However, the US House has passed legislation to curb the Energy secretary’s ability to use the reserve unless the government increases the number of federal lands available for gas and oil drilling. Other congressionally required releases, about 140 million barrels slated for fiscal years 2024 through 2027, were canceled after lawmakers approved a provision in a giant spending bill in December.