NEW: Biden admin cancels plan to refill Strategic Petroleum Reserve after depleting reserves by 43%

While the agency has executed several oil purchases in recent months, the reserves still remain at historically low levels.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

The Biden administration has canceled a plan delivered in March to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The Department of Energy’s Office of Petroleum Reserves announced on March 14 its solicitation for three million barrels of oil to be delivered in August and September to the Bayou Choctaw site in Louisiana. This site is one of four major SPR storage facilities in the country, according to Fox Business.

The DOE said that it would pull back from its recent solicitation for oil, coming amid increasing prices.

The SPR currently contains 363 million barrels of oil. This is a 43 percent decrease from January 2021 when Biden took office. Biden began tapping the reserves in late 2021 to combat skyrocketing fuel prices.

"Keeping the taxpayer’s interest at the forefront, we will not award for the Bayou Choctaw SPR site in August and September, and will continue to solicit available capacity as market conditions allow," a DOE spokesperson said.

"As always, we monitor market dynamics to remain nimble and innovative in our successful replenishment approach to protect this critical national security asset."

When the plans to refill Bayou Choctaw were announced, the DOE said it aimed to purchase oil at $79 per barrel or lower. Oil prices have increased to $85.71 as of Wednesday.

While the agency has executed several oil purchases in recent months, the reserves still remain at historically low levels.

Between 2021 and 2022, Biden ordered that the DOE release 260 million barrels of oil from the SPR.

During Wednesday’s White House press conference, Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked, "You guys started draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try and help with the Putin price hike a few years ago, said you were gonna refill it, but now it doesn't seem like that's happening. Why?"

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred him to the DOE, adding that "I know there are certain components to that in how they were going to move forward in refilling it, they would have more specifics on that."

In July 2022, it was revealed that around one million barrels of oil released from the reserves were sold to Unipec, the trading arm of the China Petrochemical Corporation, also known as Sinopec.

In 2015, a private equity firm cofounded by Hunter Biden, Bohai Harvest RST, owned a stake in Sinopec Marketing valued at $1.7 million.

In October 2022, Biden said his administration would be seeking to refill the reserves in the future.

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