US oil stockpile to be refilled this year: Energy secretary

US oil stockpile to be refilled this year: Energy secretary

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during the CERAWeek oil summit in Houston, Texas
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during the CERAWeek oil summit in Houston, Texas. Photo: Mark Felix / AFP
Source: AFP

The United States plans to refill its strategic oil reserve by the end of 2024 after the stockpiles reached historic lows last year, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Monday.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden announced an unprecedented tapping of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in a move criticized by Republicans.

Between September 2021 and July 2023, the United States released around 274 million barrels, dropping the SPR to its lowest level in 40 years. Washington established the reserve in the 1970s as an emergency stockpile after the 1973 energy crisis.

The government began in June 2023 buying back oil to bolster the reserve. In the ensuing nine months, the SPR has been increased by about 14.7 million barrels, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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Granholm said the level had actually been boosted by about 30 million barrels since last summer, owing to other transactions, such as the return of crude oil loaned to industrial players.

"By the end of this year we will essentially be back to where we would have been absent the sales," Granholm said at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

Inventories will be boosted by another 140 million barrels that had originally been expected to be sold between 2023 and 2027 following the cancelation of congressionally mandated sales.

After surging in the wake of Russia's invasion, oil prices have been relatively stable since last fall.

Producers in the OPEC+ alliance said earlier this month they would extend cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second quarter to support prices.

Granholm said the Biden administration's record shows that "while we can maintain energy security, we can also react responsibly to changing market reality."

Source: AFP

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