The record 180-million release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) came as a surprise for the International Energy Agency when it was announced in late March, since the Biden Administration hadn’t informed the IEA the massive release was coming, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.
On March 31, the Biden Administration announced the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average for the next six months. This was made “after consultation with allies and partners,” the White House said at the time.
The record SPR release was part of measures included in what the White House said was “President Biden’s Plan to Respond to Putin’s Price Hike at the Pump.”
According to Reuters sources, members of the IEA have started to be concerned that the U.S. Administration is using SPR releases—including this latest massive release – for political purposes in the United States, where President Biden scrambles to respond to the rising gasoline prices and high inflation.
The U.S. announcement left the IEA surprised and its members scrambling to announce their releases of their own, the sources told Reuters.
The U.S. Energy Department confirmed to Reuters that the U.S. decision to release the oil was “independent” of the international agency. The department, however, did not comment on whether it had informed the IEA in advance of the announcement.
The IEA, for its part, has recently unveiled the details of the release of 182.7 million barrels of oil from emergency stocks over six months. Roughly three-fourths of this will come from public stocks and the remaining fourth from lowering national stockholding obligations set on industry. IEA members announced in early April they would release an additional 120 million barrels from their emergency oil stocks over a six-month period, days after the U.S. announced the record SPR release. A total of 60 million barrels of the latest IEA release of 120 million has already been accounted for as part of the 180 million barrel SPR release that the United States announced at the end of March.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com