With Strategic Petroleum Reserve at lowest level since 1985, US sells stockpiled oil to China

Every House Democrat voted against a ban on selling oil from the SPR to China.

Updated: July 24, 2022 - 11:13pm

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While U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve stockpiles have fallen to their lowest level since 1985, every congressional Democrat voted Wednesday to continue sending oil from the SPR to China. 

Supplies have continuously dwindled since President Joe Biden entered office, but they started rapidly declining after Russia invaded Ukraine. In response, Biden sold millions more barrels from the reserves in April.

During Biden's first month in office, the U.S. had about 638 million barrels in its reserve. By March, one month into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, reserves had fallen to 565 million barrels, and by July, 480 million barrels were left in the SPR, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

America's reserves have not been so low since June 1985, when the country was still building the SPR. 

Last week, Biden touted his actions to bring down oil prices. "I've been releasing about 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and rallied our global partners to release a combined 240 million barrels of oil onto the market," he tweeted. "Our actions are working, and prices are coming down."  

While average U.S. gas prices have tapered down from a peak of $5 a gallon — their highest level ever — gas is still significantly more expensive under Biden than under any previous administration, GasBuddy data shows.

In response to the dwindling SPR, Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) offered a motion in the House last week to "immediately consider legislation that would prohibit the sale of oil drawn from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to entities under the control of the Chinese Communist Party or for export to China," he said in a press release.

Every House Democrat voted against his motion.

That same day, 19 House Republicans sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm demanding to know why her department sold nearly a billion barrels of SPR oil to an American subsidiary of Sinopec, a Chinese company in which Hunter Biden invested heavily. 

Earlier this month, Republican Senators introduced legislation seeking to stop oil sales to China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

"It's inexplicable that Biden would allow oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be exported to China," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said at the time.

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