The White House confirmed last week that it would release one million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for the next six months as domestic producers ramp up production.
“The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time,” the Biden administration said in a press release. “This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as [a] bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up,” the release added.
President Joe Biden seemed confident that gas prices would head lower in response—though he wasn’t sure by exactly how much. “It will come down, and it could come down fairly significantly,” he noted, adding that the drop in price could range from ten cents to thirty-five cents per gallon.
“My guess is it could be as high—somewhere between 30 million to 50 million barrels,” he said. “And the higher the number, the more likely the prices to come down.”
Where Are the Savings?
However, even as several days have passed since the announcement, the national average price for a gallon of regular gas is still sitting well over $4, and prices have even surpassed $6 in some parts of the country. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five weeks ago, gas prices have surged about seventy cents per gallon.
So, what happened? As reported by CNBC, Americans will have to stay patient as “Biden’s plan to bring down gas prices could take weeks.” Expect prices at the pump to fall “maybe a penny every day or two,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told the business news outlet.
“We could see the national average price of gasoline fall back under $4 a gallon in the few weeks ahead. Diesel should fall back under $5 a gallon nationally, as well,” he continued.
Taking Cue From History
Robert Weiner, a professor at George Washington University’s business school, has predicted that gas prices could fall by about twenty-five cents.
“Based on past experience, we have some evidence on the effect of SPR releases on oil prices,” Weiner told The Hill, citing supply disruptions that were seen a decade ago that resulted from the Libyan civil war and a subsequent SPR release by the Obama administration.
But, according to AAA, there are still plenty of uncertainties that could continue to rattle the energy market. “The global oil market remains highly volatile, so additional news that threatens supply could put upward pressure on oil prices,” it said in a release.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.