U.S. to release 50 million barrels of oil to ease energy costs

President Biden plans to release 50 million barrels of oil held in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to slash sky-high fuel prices on the cusp of the holidays, the White House said Tuesday.

The White House said China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom will tap into their reserves as part of a coordinated effort.

“This culminates weeks of consultations with countries around the world, and we are already seeing the effect of this work on oil prices. Over the last several weeks as reports of this work became public, oil prices are down nearly 10%,” the White House said.

Mr. Biden said 32 million barrels will eventually be returned to the strategic reserve. The other 18 million have been authorized by Congress for sale.

The move sets up a clash with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, which may reassess market conditions and respond by withholding plans to ramp up oil production.

But senior Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, had been pleading with Mr. Biden to provide relief.

“President Biden’s announcement is good news for American families and will strengthen our economy,” the New York Democrat said. “Tapping the SPR will provide much-needed temporary relief at the pump and will signal to OPEC that they cannot recklessly manipulate supply to artificially inflate gas prices. Of course, the only long-term solution to rising gas prices is to continue our march to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and create a robust green energy economy.”

The White House said Mr. Biden still wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether chicanery in the oil and gas markets is keeping prices high.

“Even as the President is helping to lead the world in addressing oil supply imbalances, he is also focused on how consolidation in the oil and gas sector may be resulting in anti-competitive practices that keep American consumers from benefitting when oil prices fall,” the administration said. “There is mounting evidence that declines in oil prices are not translating into lower prices at the pump.”


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