- President Joe Biden’s decision to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) ahead of the 2022 midterm elections has left the U.S. in a potentially precarious position now that war has broken out between Israel and Hamas, numerous energy experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- The SPR now holds about 17 days of emergency supply, and sits at its lowest level since 1983, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
- “It is unconscionable that the administration would use a hedge against these sorts of unpredictable geopolitical events to win a few seats in a midterm election,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the DCNF of the SPR releases.
President Joe Biden opted to tap into the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) in late 2021 and 2022, a decision which now leaves the U.S. in a potentially vulnerable position as the Middle East is on the verge of a conflict that could disrupt oil supply, numerous energy policy experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Biden decided to release 180 million barrels of oil from the SPR in late 2021 and 2022 as fuel prices skyrocketed for American consumers, a spike which created a political headache for Biden and fellow Democrats in the months leading up to the midterm elections. Now, the SPR has about 17 days of emergency supply left as war breaks out between Israel and Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist organization, a situation which leaves the U.S. in a precarious position if the conflict escalates to further destabilize the Middle East, experts told the DCNF.
“It was a colossal mistake to use the strategic petroleum reserve as a strategic political reserve to try to buy Biden some goodwill during the midterms,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the DCNF. “It is unconscionable that the administration would use a hedge against these sorts of unpredictable geopolitical events to win a few seats in a midterm election,” Pyle said, adding that the decision “puts us in a precarious position, because we do not know how things in the Middle East might escalate given this shocking and unprecedented event.”
.@bariweiss: "What has happened over the past 72 hours is the biggest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust…
The Nazis tried to hide it. In this case, with Hamas in 2023, they are live-streaming their atrocities on TikTok." pic.twitter.com/FzMPXioXNR
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 10, 2023
The SPR is at its lowest levels since 1983, and the Department of Energy (DOE) decided against replenishing it in August, citing unfavorable market conditions. In July, numerous energy experts cautioned that it could take “decades” to refill the SPR after Biden’s releases. Democrats ripped former President Donald Trump for considering replenishment when oil prices hovered around $25 per barrel, claiming that such a move would be a handout to Big Oil. Crude oil futures have remained above $65 per barrel since October of 2022.
Hamas claims that Iran provided backing for Saturday’s savage attacks that started the ongoing war, according to two reports by The Wall Street Journal. The Biden administration has condemned the attacks and reaffirmed its strong support for Israel as it strikes back, but the administration so far has not yet identified any definitive evidence linking the Iranian regime to the Hamas rampages, according to Reuters. As of August, Iran produced more than 3 million barrels of oil each day, according to Reuters, an amount equivalent to about 3% of the world’s daily production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Biden drained the Strategic Petroleum reserves to keep the Senate in Democrat control after the 2022 midterm elections. We had no oil crisis,” Daniel Turner, director of Power The Future, told the DCNF. “One bad Gulf hurricane could cripple our economy … imagine the chaos if we had a real oil crisis” as a result of war in the Middle East or other factors beyond the control of the U.S. government, he continued.
Notably, approximately 6 million barrels released from the SPR since July 2021 were ultimately sold to China.
The war between Israel and Hamas could precipitate a situation similar to the 1973 oil crisis. The OPEC oil cartel imposed an embargo on the U.S. in response to the American decision to resupply the Israeli military while it battled against Arab states that had invaded on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Prices skyrocketed and hurt the American economy for an extended period of time, a key motivating factor in the Ford administration’s 1975 move to establish the SPR as an emergency resource, according to the DOE.
“The SPR was created because of the OPEC embargo and they sold that off to buy votes in last fall’s election,” Dan Kish, senior fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF. “With a fawning press corps that is at once incurious as well as supportive of their anti-domestic energy agenda, they just figure they can pull the wool over the public’s eyes and get away with it,” Kish said of the Biden administration.
The Israel-Hamas war could expand into a wider regional conflict, especially if Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terrorist proxy of the Iranian regime, enters the fight along Israel’s northern border, according to Semafor.
“The history of every war fought in the last 120 years clearly demonstrates how crucial it is to maintain ample supplies of petroleum and keep supply lines open to power any nation’s military,” David Blackmon, a 40-year veteran of the oil and gas business who now writes and consults on energy, told the DCNF. “One would have hoped the people in the White House and the Pentagon would have a grasp on this unambiguous lesson of history,” he continued, adding that “it should be obvious to everyone by now that the Biden administration does not maintain adequate respect for the need to maintain U.S. energy security.”
Neither the White House nor the DOE responded immediately to requests for comment.
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