Recent spikes in gas prices — the latest in a string of increases that have driven retail prices to record highs this year — have brought out the usual suspects who call for President Obama to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the largest emergency stockpile of government-owned crude oil in the world. Last year, when President Obama released 30 million barrels from SPR, it marked only the third time that an American president has tapped the reserve to counter the threat of oil supply disruptions to the U.S. economy.
Perhaps of greater interest is the fact that the average price-per-barrel the federal government paid for the strategic stockpiles is just under $30. This means that replenishing President Obama’s release from last year would cost around $3 billion at current prices. Or put more precisely, President Obama released $900 million of taxpayer-owned assets to achieve a marginal drop in gasoline prices — a drop that has long since disappeared at the retail pump. In the end, the Obama administration has racked up at a $2.1 billion loss in value to SPR by “investing” $900 million to prop up our economy for a very brief time. An increasingly familiar tale, indeed.
The Institute for Energy Research recently compiled a fact sheet on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to equip policymakers and the public with important details to consider as President Obama weighs another release from the reserve — ostensibly to aid the U.S. economy.
To read the full SPR Fact Sheet, click here.