Use of strategic oil reserves, a double-edged sword for Biden

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Drawing on strategic oil reserves is an alternative that resonates strongly in the United States to lower crude prices, with a president on the defensive with inflation driven by the cost of gasoline.

However, in the midst of a commitment to climate change, the White House is weighing this rarely used strategy whose impact on the price of fuel at gas stations would be, at least, provisional.

The United States created its strategic reserves in 1975 to face oil shocks. It keeps them in huge underground deposits some 800 meters deep along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, capped at 714 million barrels (mb).

Currently, the level of these stocks scales to 609 mb, according to the Department of Energy, something like six months of crude consumption in the country.

Some 60 sunken reservoirs in a salt layer are distributed in four highly monitored sites in Louisiana and Texas.

It takes about 12 days after the president’s decision for that oil to be refined and fit for sale. It can be used to meet domestic demand or be exported.

– Precedents –

The law gives the US president the prerogative to use up to 30 million barrels in 60 days or more “in the event of serious power outages.”

In 1991 George H. W Bush ordered to use about 17 mb during the first Gulf War.

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