(Bloomberg) — The Biden administration plans to sell more crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with deliveries estimated to happen between April and June.
The non-emergency sale will amount to 26 million barrels of crude, according to people familiar with the matter, and is part the congressionally mandated sale lawmakers approved years ago for the current fiscal year.
The Energy Department has sought to stop some of the sales required by 2015 legislation so that it can refill the emergency reserve, which currently has about 371 million barrels. After this latest release, the reserve will dip to about 345 million barrels.
Biden officials decided last year to tap 180 million barrels from the strategic oil reserve in an effort to lower prices after Russia invaded Ukraine and sent crude surging above $100 a barrel. Some Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for that drawdown, which was the biggest release ever and helped drain the SPR to its lowest level since 1983. Critics admonished the move as a political stunt intended to combat rising gasoline prices ahead of midterm elections.
Biden officials have since spoken with energy companies about purchasing oil to refill the SPR when oil prices approach $70 a barrel.
The US House last month passed legislation meant to curb the Energy secretary’s ability to use the reserve unless the government increases the amount of federal lands available for gas and oil drilling.
Other congressionally required releases — about 140 million barrels slated for fiscal years 2024 through 2027 — were canceled after lawmakers in December approved a provision in a giant spending bill.