The White House on Tuesday brushed off questions about whether it will release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to deal with rising gas prices, even as it said an announcement will be coming Wednesday.
“I don’t have anything to announce at this time. … We are going to make an announcement tomorrow, so I will let the president speak for himself,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday when asked about whether the Biden administration would release barrels from the country’s oil reserve.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain similarly tweeted that the administration would discuss gasoline prices on Wednesday.
Their comments came after Bloomberg reported that the White House would soon release between 10 and 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — part of a previously announced 180 million barrel release first outlined in March.
Reuters reported that the Energy Department will also release additional information on buybacks to replenish the national stockpile. The administration reportedly discussed with oil companies the idea of purchasing more oil through 2025.
The White House and Democrats are dealing with stubborn inflation numbers and rising gas prices at a terrible time — just weeks before the midterm elections.
On Tuesday, gasoline prices stood at $3.87 per gallon on average, down from $3.92 a week ago but up from $3.68 a month ago.
The OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations earlier this month announced a production cut, a step that angered the White House and left President Biden saying the U.S. would examine its relationship with Saudi Arabia. The decision was widely seen as one that would help Russia, a member of the group and a major oil producer, during its war with Ukraine.
The OPEC+ cuts increased the price of oil and were expected to bring upward pressure to gasoline prices.
The West Coast has also suffered from refinery outages in recent weeks, though that situation was expected to improve.
Jean-Pierre sought to highlight the most recent decline, telling reporters, “Gas prices are falling again. … The average retail price is down about 5 cents over the last week.”
The planned announcement also follows recent disagreements between the administration and major oil companies on fuel exports. The Energy Department has recently called on energy companies to limit shipments of gasoline and diesel abroad, a call the industry has pushed back on.
It’s not clear whether the administration will ultimately take any policy actions related to exports.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove up the price of gasoline earlier in the year; it reached more than $5 per gallon in June. Supply and demand mismatches related to pandemic recovery have also been a major factor.
Brett Samuels and Alex Gangitano contributed.
Source: The Hill