Biden policies on U.S. strategic oil reserve shock strategists

FPI / September 27, 2023


As China expands its reserves with low-cost oil from Russia, the Biden administration has allowed U.S. stocks in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to hit their lowest levels in decades.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not be replenished during Joe Biden’s current term.

The communist regime in Beijing is seen intent on stockpiling large amounts of crude oil in anticipation of a military move against Taiwan.

When the Biden administration took office in January 2021, the SPR contained more than 638 million barrels of oil. Currently, according to Energy Department statistics, the reserve holds about 347 million barrels.

The last time the U.S. reserve was that low was the early 1980s.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Biden team has no plans to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve anytime soon.

Granholm told CNN the United States has enough oil in the reserve to deal with any emergencies.

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former intelligence director for the Pacific Fleet, said the lack of oil reserves bears directly on the U.S. military’s ability to respond to any Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Significantly, he said, the U.S. failure to refill the reserve also could undermine the U.S. ability to deter China from attacking Taiwan, according to a report by security correspondent Bill Gertz for the Washington Times.

“The decision by the Biden administration to tap into America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the short term gain of lowering gas prices is a strategic mistake when compared to our long-term national security requirements,” Capt. Fanell said. “Specifically, the depletion of the SPR could adversely impact the operations of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in the event of a [Chinese] invasion of Taiwan.”

Fuel shortages could result in delays of Navy forces responding to a Chinese attack. U.S. forces could also find themselves left stranded or forced to transit to areas that pose greater risk of PLA navy attacks, he said.

“Additionally, the lack of a fully stocked SPR sends a signal to our allies that we are not serious about our national defense interests in Asia,” Capt. Fanell said. “Worse, this message could contribute to Beijing’s decision-making to conduct just such an operation.”

Some of the oil from the SPR has been offered for sale, leading to fears American reserves could soon be filling Chinese reserve tanks. That prompted the Senate in July to pass an amendment to the fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill banning any strategic reserve oil from being sold to the nation’s adversaries.

“We know China has been amassing the largest stockpile of crude in the world,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a sponsor of the legislation said. “Nevertheless, last year, the United States sold off part of our reserves to China.”

Cruz’s amendment will block the federal government from selling oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea.

“We should not be selling our emergency oil reserves to our adversaries,” Cruz said.

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