Oil Industry Exec: Draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve 'Should Be a Real Concern for All Americans'

Susan Jones | December 2, 2022 | 10:15am EST
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This picture taken on September 28, 2022 shows wildflowers growing near oil pumpjacks along a section of Highway 33 known as the Petroleum Highway north of McKittrick in Kern County, California. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken on September 28, 2022 shows wildflowers growing near oil pumpjacks along a section of Highway 33 known as the Petroleum Highway north of McKittrick in Kern County, California. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - When Joe Biden became president 23 months ago, the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve contained 638,085,000 barrels. Since then, because of Biden's various oil releases, the SPR now contains 389,116,000 barrels (as of the end of November), a 39.01 percent decrease and the lowest level since 1984.

On Friday, Mike Sommers, the head of the American Petroleum Institute, told the Fox Business Network, "This should be a real concern for all Americans."

"The Strategic Petroleum Reserve has become the strategic political reserve. And we have grave concerns about how it has been so politicized," Sommers said.

"This is for emergency purposes, not to lower gasoline prices during a time -- during a political season. So, of course, it's important to make sure we have the proper reserves in the SPR."

Sommers warned that we may face another oil crisis in the next few weeks, "depending on what happens with the Russian sanctions, depending what happens with OPEC." (OPEC+ is expected to hold a virtual meeting on Sunday to discuss production quotas.)

Sommers noted that in 1984, when the SPR was at the current level, "we were using 20 percent less oil. So today, as the economy has continued to grow, we're going to need more in the SPR, of course.

The SPR's maximum capacity is around 714,000,000 barrels.

'Such a myth'

Sommers corrected, once again, Biden administration claims that oil companies are sitting on thousands of "unused" oil drilling leases and "permits."

"Yeah, this is such a myth," Sommers said:

"And it's been debunked multiple times, but the administration continues to use it. They make it seem like as soon as you get a lease that you can start drilling on that property. That wouldn't be the environmentally sound thing to do. You have to do a lot of prep work before you actually produce on those federal leases, including getting multiple permits."

"So this is a myth that they've been trotting out there for many, many months. We all know it's untrue. And I wish they would stop using that false a statistic. The truth of the matter is, is that one of the reasons why production hasn't gone up is they're using the SPR for political purposes. They're flooding the market with oil right now, rather than letting the market work and producers to continue to produce more based on markets.

"They used the SPR in a political manner, and that has put downward pressure on the amount of production that's occurring in the United States."

Sommers also said the Biden administration has slowed down the permitting process:

"We get almost 20 percent of American oil from the Gulf of Mexico. They still haven't put in place a five-year plan that would allow us to continue to lease in the Gulf of Mexico and produce in this highly prolific region. So I think the administration should stop talking about these false statistics and instead get these permits approved so that we can continue to produce both on federal lands and in federal waters."

Sommers pointed to an API plan to encourage more domestic production. "It's called the ten in '22 plan that we've been talking about since June. We hope they would actually start adopting that. We hope House Republicans adopt that plan when they get the majority in the House of Representatives as well," he said.

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