President Joe Biden on Tuesday authorized the Department of Energy (DOE) to release 30 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserves, representing half of a coordinated 60-million-barrel release from International Energy Agency (IEA) member states.
The move comes as part of an effort to stabilize oil markets amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia. Russia provides 10 percent of the global supply of natural gas and oil and roughly 40 percent of the European Union’s.
The price of crude oil has been accelerating of late and on Tuesday reached more than $104 a barrel—the highest it’s been since 2014.
The announcement to tap oil reserves came out of a meeting Tuesday of the 31 IEA member states that was chaired by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
An IEA release notes that global oil markets were already tight before Russia’s invasion, with heightened price volatility and low commercial inventories.
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We are prepared to use every tool available to us to limit disruption to global energy supply as a result of President Putin’s actions. We will also continue our efforts to accelerate diversification of energy supplies away from Russia and to secure the world from Moscow’s weaponization of oil and gas.”
The 60 million barrels represent 4 percent of the 1.5 billion barrels of emergency stockpiles held by IEA members, according to the release, and is equivalent to 2 million barrels a day for 30 days. The United States consumes an average of about 20 million barrels per day. (That is 3 days worth of oil for the American people.)
It’s the fourth time the IEA has tapped its reserves since its creation in 1974.
By Nick Ciolino