Biden Restarts Plans to Refill US Oil Reserve as Prices Dip

(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is taking advantage of a dip in oil prices to restart plans to refill its depleted emergency oil cache.

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The Energy Department announced Tuesday it was seeking as much as 3.3 million barrels of crude oil in October for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve after a rise in oil prices led the agency to cancel a similar proposal last month on grounds it wasn’t in the taxpayer’s best interest.

The Energy Department has been slowly refilling the more than 700 million barrel-strong cache after it reached a 40-year low following the administration’s unprecedented drawdown of a record 180 million barrels in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It currently holds about 367 million barrels, according to Energy Department data, down from almost 600 million at the start of 2022.

Factors such as signs the oil market is well supplied and the possibility of OPEC+ increasing output has led oil to fall, trading around $78 a barrel Tuesday — below the administration’s stated buying range of $79 a barrel and below.

“We are buying back and we want to buy at a rate that is good for the taxpayer,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said last month during a congressional hearing when asked about the plan to refill the reserve.

Since last year the administration has purchased 32.3 million barrels of oil for an average price of $76.98, according to the Energy Department.

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