The Biden administration is releasing gasoline reserves. Will it lower prices at the pump? (2024)

The Biden administration announced this week that it is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve in an effort to reduce prices when drivers hit the road this summer.

The gasoline will be sold in 100,000-barrel tranches over a six-week stretch between Memorial Day and July 4, bolstering the nation's fuel supply during the busiest driving season of the year, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is laser focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families," Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.

However, experts who spoke to ABC News rejected the notion that the release of gasoline reserves would meaningfully lower prices at the pump. The move will likely result in a modest reduction for drivers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast but will have little effect nationwide, they said.

MORE: Gas prices have climbed nearly 14% this year. Here's why.

"This is not a needle-mover," Patrick de Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told ABC News. "It will not impact prices for the majority of Americans."

The White House did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Since the beginning of the year, the average national price for a gallon of unleaded regular gas has jumped about 16%, amounting to an increase of more than 50 cents per gallon, according to AAA data shared with ABC News.

The national average price for a gallon of unleaded regular stands at $3.61, which marks a slight uptick from where the price stood a year ago, AAA data showed.

The move by the Biden administration will lower gasoline prices for drivers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast by 5 to 15 cents, de Haan said, characterizing the release as a relatively small injection of additional supply.

The release of 1 million barrels, or 42 million gallons, is roughly equivalent to the amount of gasoline consumed by the U.S. every two-and-a-half hours, de Haan said.

Price increases so far this year match the typical bounce in spring when warm-weather travelers drive up demand and refineries switch to a more expensive blend of summer fuel.

By adding gasoline to the marketplace at this time of year, the Biden administration aims to mitigate the risk of further price increases as even more drivers travel over the coming months, experts told ABC News.

"It's a perfect time of year for this release," Timothy Fitzgerald, a professor of business economics at Texas Tech University who studies the petroleum industry, told ABC News.

Still, Fitzgerald added, the ultimate price effect of the move will be modest, in part because the added supply will not make its way to regions like the West Coast where drivers are suffering the highest prices.

In California, the state with the nation's stiffest gasoline prices, an average gallon costs $5.15, according to AAA data. In nearby Washington, AAA said, an average gallon runs $4.58.

"This gasoline [release] is unlikely to help in those markets," Fitzgerald said, pointing to a lack of pipeline capacity necessary to transport gasoline from the Northeast to the West.

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The Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve was established in the mid-2010s in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy when refinery damage left some New York gas stations without fuel for 30 days, the Department of Energy said.

The decision to empty gasoline from the reserve comes after Congress called for the closure of the facility as part of a spending measure enacted in March.

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In a statement this week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the move makes up part of the Biden administration's effort to lower energy prices for American consumers.

"This builds on other actions by President Biden to lower gas and energy costs -- including historic releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the largest-ever investment in clean energy," Jean-Pierre said.

Despite the rise in gasoline prices, U.S. oil production has surged in recent years.

The U.S. set a record for crude oil production in 2023, averaging 12.9 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a federal agency.

Rising gas prices can hurt perceptions of an incumbent president and damage the prospects for reelection, experts previously told ABC News.

In 2016, a study in the academic journal, Political Psychology examined the relationship between gas prices and presidential approval rating between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s, finding that elevated gas prices drove a president's approval downward.

To be exact, each 10-cent increase in the gas price was associated with more than half a percentage point decline in presidential approval, the research showed.

The Biden administration is releasing gasoline reserves. Will it lower prices at the pump? (2024)


Are the US oil reserves low? ›

Key Takeaways. After releasing substantial supplies in 2022, the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve remains near a four-decade low. That leaves the U.S. with less wiggle room to manage oil and gasoline prices as tensions rise in the Middle East.

How many days of oil reserves does the US have? ›

As of July 21, 2023, the inventory was 346.8 million barrels (55,140,000 m3). This equates to about 17 days of oil at 2019 daily U.S. consumption levels of 20.54 million barrels per day (3,266,000 m3/d) or 35 days of oil at 2019 daily U.S. import levels of 9.141 million barrels per day (1,453,300 m3/d).

What is the oil reserves update? ›

Basic Info. US Crude Oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Stocks is at a current level of 369.29M, up from 368.80M last week and up from 357.95M one year ago. This is a change of 0.13% from last week and 3.17% from one year ago.

How much is a gallon of gas in California? ›

State Gas Price Averages
District of Columbia$3.683$4.654
47 more rows

Has Biden refilled the strategic oil reserve? ›

The Biden Administration Is Not Refilling The Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Which country has the most untapped oil reserves? ›

Interestingly, even though it is nowhere near the top, a report indicates that the U.S. has the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, surpassing even Saudi Arabia!

How many years of oil is left in the world? ›

World Oil Reserves

The world has proven reserves equivalent to 46.6 times its annual consumption levels. This means it has about 47 years of oil left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

How long until oil reserves run out? ›

Conclusion: how long will fossil fuels last? It is predicted that we will run out of fossil fuels in this century. Oil can last up to 50 years, natural gas up to 53 years, and coal up to 114 years. Yet, renewable energy is not popular enough, so emptying our reserves can speed up.

How much oil is left in the US? ›

In 2021, U.S. proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate increased 16% from 2020, totaling 44.4 billion barrels, according to our recently released Proved Reserves of Crude Oil and Natural Gas in the United States, Year-End 2021 report.

Where is the cheapest gas in the US? ›

Mississippi has the lowest price of gas, with an average of $3.00 per gallon of regular gas.

What state has the highest gas tax? ›

California pumps out the highest state gas tax rate of 77.9 cents per gallon (cpg), followed by Illinois (66.5 cpg) and Pennsylvania (62.2 cpg). The lowest state gas tax rates can be found in Alaska at 9.0 cents per gallon, followed by Missouri (17.5 cpg) and Mississippi (18.4 cpg).

Where in California is gas almost $10 a gallon? ›


- Gas prices at one Northern California gas station are getting very close to $10 a gallon. A Chevron station in Mendocino was charging $9.63 this week for a gallon of regular gas.

How much oil is left under the US? ›

In 2021, U.S. proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate increased 16% from 2020, totaling 44.4 billion barrels, according to our recently released Proved Reserves of Crude Oil and Natural Gas in the United States, Year-End 2021 report.

Has US oil consumption decreased? ›

In 2022, the United States consumed 19.1 million barrels of oil daily. In comparison to the previous year, figures increased by around 1.9 percent.

Are oil reserves dwindling? ›

In other words, while the IEA now suggests that global crude oil production is past its peak, it does not anticipate a significant decline before 2035 and it foresees no peak in conventional, all-oil or all-liquids production before that date.

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