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White House Determined to Bring Fuel Prices Down for U.S. Consumers

The Biden Administration is ready to start releasing crude from the strategic petroleum reserves should it become necessary in case of higher retail fuel prices.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that the market is supplied well enough to ensure as low price as possible for American consumers,” White House energy advisor Amos Hochstein told the Financial Times today.

Hochstein noted prices at the pump were “still too high for many Americans” and he wanted to see them “cut down a little bit further”.

The national average gas price stood at $3.447 per gallon as of Sunday, which was lower both from last month and from this time last year but apparently still too high for White House comfort in an election year.

Supporting the perception that prices are too high for many, the latest reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 65.6 for June, down from 69.1 in May.

“Assessments of personal finances dipped, due to modestly rising concerns over high prices as well as weakening incomes,” said the university’s director for surveys of consumers, Joanne Hsu. “Overall, consumers perceive few changes in the economy from May,” she added.

That perception is not particularly upbeat, hence the suggestion that more help may be needed from the federal government ahead of the November vote. However, the SPR is not really in a state allowing further draining. After releasing around 200 million barrels of crude from the reserve in 2022, the administration has been buying crude back but at a much slower pace because of prices.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy announced it would buy 6 million bpd in its latest SPR refill push, as it took advantage of the dip in oil prices. Yet just two months earlier, the DoE abandoned a purchase plan because prices had gone too high, highlighting the challenges of restocking the nation’s strategic oil reserve.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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