Biden Tries to Refill Strategic Oil Reserve at a Premium After Draining it to Historic Lows and Handicapping Domestic Drilling

Evan Poellinger | October 24, 2023
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President Joe Biden is finally looking to refill America’s depleted strategic oil reserves, and is going to pay a noticeably higher price than if he had chosen to do so at an earlier time, or if he hadn’t drained them in the first place.

On October 19, Reuters reported that Biden’s administration was looking to purchase six million barrels of oil in order to replenish the strategic oil reserves which have dwindled to their lowest levels in 40 years. While replenishing these reserves is a necessary undertaking, the differential in oil prices raises the question of why the administration has waited until now to take action.

According to Reuters, the administration is looking to purchase the oil at a price of $79 dollars per barrel, which represents a nine-dollar increase over the earlier preferred purchase price. Accentuating the sting of this heightened price point is the motivation for Biden’s original expenditure of the strategic oil reserve, which, as Sen. Tom Cotton (R, AR) observed, was that the Biden administration recognized high gas prices were “a unique pain-point for most American families and they have to at least appear to be taking action.”

The increase in price per barrel, coupled with a Middle Eastern crisis accentuating the questionable timing of the administration’s decision, would seem to suggest that domestic drilling could help to offset at least some of the burden of refilling the reserves. Yet, the Biden administration has continued to restrict and throw up obstacles to domestic oil drilling.

In July, the administration unveiled plans to “increase the amount of money oil companies have to provide before they can drill on public lands twenty-fold.” In addition, the administration also restricted millions of acres of public land from being drilled, after initially giving approval to a significant drilling project in Alaska.

As a result, the U.S. has to import oil to replenish its strategic reserves, and pay a hefty price to do so.