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U.S. Won’t Release SPR Barrels To Calm Oil Markets

Oil barrels

The United States will not be dipping into its Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) to calm unsettled markets today, according to S&P Global Platts sources who were commenting about rising oil prices as WTI surpassed $65 per barrel in the late afternoon.

The US may, however, consider tapping into the SPR if oil prices are too high over the summer months, according to the same sources, although President Donald Trump confidently proclaimed on Monday that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC players have the ability to turn on the taps to make up for any oil supply shortfalls left by Iran now that waivers are behind us, marking the true beginning of the US sanctions on Iran.

WTI was trading up $1.62 (+2.53%) at 3:45pm EST, reaching $65.69. Brent was trading up $2.14 (+2.97%) at $74.11—the highest price in five months.

The purpose of the 700+million-barrel SPR is to insulate the United States in the event of a supply emergency, although the fact that it exists also sends the message to other oil producers that the United States has the ability to flood the market with oil should it choose to do so. It is the largest supply of emergency crude oil in the world, according to the energy.gov website.

The United States has tapped its SPR to weather global supply disruptions three times, although it has released barrels at other times as well as part of planned drawdowns. In August last year, the United States moved up a planned 2019 SPR release to soften the blow of US sanctions on Iran. The United States, however, granted eight purchases of Iranian oil waivers, sending the price of oil downward on the news.

Those waivers will officially end on May 1, the White House announced on Monday.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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