The stockpile has been gradually shrinking due to Washington's attempts to stabilize gasoline prices
US strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) have shrunk to their lowest level in nearly 40 years, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing weekly data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Crude oil inventories declined by nearly 7 million barrels in the week to September 16, falling to 427.2 million barrels - the lowest since 1984, the WSJ said. According to the report, this is the first time the SPR has held less oil than commercial storage since 1983. As of September 16, there were 430.8 million barrels of oil in commercial storage facilities.
President Joe Biden announced that a record 180 million barrels of crude oil would be released from the SPR in late March, in an attempt to combat rising fuel prices and market disruptions caused in part by the uncertainty regarding Russian oil exports to the global market amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Under the plan, the US is to sell around 1 million barrels of oil per day over the course of six months. According to analysts, this volume is more than three times higher than any previous release from the SPR. Official data shows that about 155 million barrels have been released from the SPR so far this year, with 10 million more to be tapped in November.
According to a recent analysis from the US Treasury, the SPR releases this year, along with coordinated releases from international partners which Washington insisted on earlier this year, have reduced gasoline prices in the country by around 40 cents per gallon compared to what they would have been without tapping the reserves.
Retail gasoline prices in the US have been gradually dropping for more than 13 consecutive weeks since June 2022, data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows. However, earlier this week, the national average reversed course, reportedly due to maintenance work at several US refineries.
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