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esident Joe Biden has drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to its lowest level in 40 years as he tries to combat rising gas prices and shortages in crude oil tied to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
Biden has released 160 million barrels of crude since March, bringing the reserves to its lowest levels in four decades.
He made the move in response to Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine and after he rallied Western allies to end or cut back their purchases of Russian oil, thereby cutting off one of Putin’s main sources of funding.
The nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve had 416.4 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 30 – the lowest level since 1984, according to Department of Energy data
But even as oil prices have started to drop, Biden kept extending releases from the reserve.
Refills have not started, a move some analysts have deemed ‘risky,’ particularly was winter approaches.
The Biden administration said earlier this year it would replenish the oil reserve with a call for bids to repurchase 60 million barrels of oil – roughly one-third of the emergency supply released by the president.
The bid calls are to start taking place this fall.
Gasoline prices dropped from a national average of just over $5 for a gallon of regular in June to $3.68 at the end of the September. They are back on the rise, as much as 20 cents per gallon. On Friday the national average was $3.89, according to AAA.
And, on Wednesday, Biden announced additional releases after OPEC announced it was making its biggest cuts in production in more than two years.
Biden will release another 10 million barrels and he will ‘continue to direct SPR releases as appropriate to protect American consumers and promote energy security,’ White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and economic adviser Brian Deese said in a joint statement.
In the statement, the administration also called on oil companies to ‘keep bringing pump prices down by closing the historically large gap between wholesale and retail gas prices.’
The administration continued to renew its call to decrease the country’s dependance on fossil fuels and warned it will work with Congress on ways ‘to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.’