(MENAFN) The Biden administration's decision to repeatedly release crude oil from the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) has drawn criticism, with industry experts raising concerns about the national stockpile reaching its lowest levels in more than three decades. According to Tim Stewart, President of the United States Oil and Gas Association, the White House has sold over 40 percent of the SPR, equivalent to 180 million barrels, in 2022 as part of efforts to curb escalating fuel prices.
Stewart emphasized that the original purpose of the strategic petroleum reserve was to address disruptions in crude supply rather than combat high prices. He pointed out that the significant drawdown initiated by the administration over the past 12 months, the largest in history, was driven by the need to navigate an election cycle.
The expert highlighted the reliance of United States refiners on heavy sour crude, which the nation historically depended on, but noted that the current domestic production primarily consists of light sweet crude. As a result, the United States is compelled to export a considerable amount of crude oil.
Addressing concerns about replenishing the emergency reserve, Stewart noted the substantial effort required, stating that approximately 168 million barrels are needed to return to 2021 levels, and an additional 300 million barrels are required for a complete refill. He expressed apprehension about the expense and time involved in this endeavor.
The depletion of the strategic reserves, designed to enhance national security during times of disruption, raises questions about the administration's energy policy and its impact on the country's ability to address unforeseen challenges. As discussions surrounding the United States energy strategy intensify, the decision to significantly reduce the strategic petroleum reserve continues to be a subject of debate, with implications for both economic stability and national security.
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