Downing: Our strategic oil reserves are shallow, as Biden promises continue to ring hollow



Since the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the mid-1970s, America has never been backed into such an energy corner as we’re in now, thanks to the Biden Administration selling off much of our oil reserve to countries like China.

It’s an invisible trap about which most Americans are oblivious, but it has everything to do with inflation, recession, and national security. Americans may soon feel the pain of rising prices, supply shortages, and a faltering economy, if OPEC, Russia, and China succeed in taking advantage of our suddenly depleted energy stockpile.

Under President Joe Biden, this drawdown of our reserve oil masks political problems he blames on Russia. But that dog won’t hunt. Let me explain:

Recall that it took just one year after Biden became president for Russia President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. Putin had also seized parts of Crimea during the years when Barack Obama was president.

Putin held his Ukraine ambitions in abeyance during the four years of President Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, Trump was the president with whom Putin did not want to mess. For four years, the United States was strong enough to stall the expansion plans of the Russian strongman until that fateful day when American voters evidently elected a man who would hardly leave his basement to campaign for president.

For Biden, the price of oil doubling under his administration was a serious problem starting in 2022; the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was his solution to keep Americans calm after the price of gas had doubled quickly last year.

Thus, oil poured forth from the strategic reserve month after month, invisibly suppressing the supply problem Biden was creating with his other anti-oil policies. Much of that oil sold by the Biden Administration went to companies that were middlemen for China.

How much oil? Last year, the Department of Energy sold off over 180 million reserve barrels. This was about 21 gallons of crude oil for every man, woman, and child in America. 

In one year alone, the Biden Administration drained nearly a third of what was in the emergency reserve and he has more sell-offs on the schedule. The Administration says its efforts have lowered gasoline prices by 17-42 cents over what they would be without this action.

The reserve, which can hold 714 million barrels of oil, was meant as a deterrent to adverse actions by OPEC, and is supposed to help give the country a leg up in foreign policy. 

But now, with just 346 million barrels left, OPEC and its sidecar Russia can read the charts: The United States has not only run through its emergency supply, it doesn’t allow enough domestic oil to be developed to meet its own needs.

Military power is one toggle on the global geopolitical chessboard and the U.S. still has that — we hope. Oil production is another big player, and in a way is the Queen with more moves. 

The opposing players have announced their next moves: Saudi Arabia cut oil production by one million barrels a day, effective July 1.

Russia, still under oil sanctions by major Western countries, has moved its oil across the oceans in spite of sanctions. Before the G7 changed the export rules on Russia to western world countries in 2022, Russia exported 33,000 barrels of refined product to the African continent per day. By March of 2023, it had built that to 420,000 barrels per day to Africa.

Russia’s oil continues to trade above the $60 price cap set by the participating embargo countries back in December. In July, Russian Urals crude oil futures breached the $60 limit and is now trading over $63, about where it stood at the time Russia invaded Ukraine and before the G7 sanctions were announced.

To drive prices higher still, Russia will now reduce oil exports by 500,000 barrels per day starting in August, the same time Saudi Arabia is scaling back.

Thus, price caps on Russia had only had a temporary effect.

As the chess piecesmove around the board, President Biden will be forced to purchase oil to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at higher prices than the price at which he sold reserve oil to China last year. Or, he simply may not replenish the supply and hope for the best.

Hope is a bad strategy. The storage caverns are half empty. With America using 20 million barrels a day, we’re down to a 17-day supply of emergency oil. 

The Biden Administration has backed us into a corner, and Americans should hope and pray for a warm winter, because the price of heating our homes may be more than we can afford in January.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.


  1. and with gas nearly $5 a gallon thanks to him raising minimum wage, it’s going to be that much more expensive to buy all the oil we need.

  2. You really think that the reason Putin didn’t invade Ukraine while Trump was in the White House was because he didn’t want to “mess” with him? Seriously? Putin hated (and still hates) NATO and Trump wanted to do as much as possible to diminish it’s influence in Europe. When Zelensky became President of Ukraine, Trump withheld military aid to the country and sent his minions to Ukraine to push Zelensky to open an investigation into Biden, his political rival. Trump and Putin also hate democracy and Putin’s anti-democratic doings are too numerous to list, while Trump cast doubt on our entire electoral process before, during and especially after November 2020.

    So, there was no need for Putin to invade Ukraine while Trump was President because he had an ally in the most powerful leader in the world. But yes, please keep on with your ludicrous narrative that Putin didn’t want to “mess” with Trump.

    • “You really think that the reason Putin didn’t invade Ukraine while Trump was in the White House was because he didn’t want to “mess” with him?”

      -Yes, because it’s true.

      Gotta love it when liberals get angry over facts and truths.

      • And you apparently have no retort to the argument I outlined in my comments. Typical Trumper; unburdened by the need for logic or the dialectic.

    • In your first paragraph you say “Putin hated Trump” then you finish your rant by saying Putin and Trump were allied. You don’t have a clue huh? Just garbage as usual. The “c” stand must stand for confused.

      • Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit is it Floyd? If you actually read it, you would notice I said Putin hated NATO and Trump wanted to diminish its influence in Europe. I never said Putin hated Trump. Read first, comment second, ok princess?

        • TLDR; It’s called punctuation…you should try it some time, keyboard warrior.
          P.S. You’re still wrong. cb

        • Cman, my memory regarding Trump and NATO is a bit different. Trump wanted NATO member Nations to begin picking up their share of the tab for running NATO, Germans especially. Seems reasonable.

          BTW I am not a Trumpanzie, because I try to look at evidence when I form an opinion. Based upon what I’ve seen it’s silly to hold on to this Putin controlling Trump notion that leftist are always yaking about. I do however acknowledge a huge connection between Biden, McConnell, Wall Street and the Chi- Com’s. Maybe you should forget the Trump- Russia fantasy, if just for a moment and look at the reality of China Influence in US elections and policy?

  3. I for one am glad resident burden is destroying the country. It took 81 million people, most votes in history, “more than any other President” to elect this bag of feces now let them roll in it. I hope the first places to run out of gas are Los Angeles, San Fran and NYC. It’ll be good for them to finally get a real taste of what democrats do when in charge…..they always destroy…..they never create.

  4. Didn’t the Saudis slow production to raise prices? Braden opened the tap to counteract the shortage, as short term ad it was. People didn’t want to pay $7 a gallon for gas. Now, we are running low and the Arabs are still turning off the tap. Prices will go up. They have to. Biden can open up our exploration like orange man did, but his party would kill him for it. All we can do is stop using so much to keep the price down. It’s all about demand.

    • History is repeating itself to a tee. Americans elected a man with a piss poor track record of handling economic growth and stability the same as they did in the seventies when Mr “Peanuts” Carter ignited the fake oil embargo that doubled the price of gas at the pump with an 8 gallon limit because as “Peanuts” said Americans were using too much fuel.

      Now the Saudi’s are punishing Americans again for electing another guy that thinks we are using too much fuel.
      The best cure for this scenario is to burn as much fuel as we want or can which will drive the price(based on demand) to $8/gal which will definitely get voters attention and realize what a fool can do when in charge of our energy supply.
      Education isnt cheap and sadly it is the uneducated that will get squeezed the most.
      Wealthy politicians with a Harvard Law degree wont feel a thing unless the sheep loose enough wool off their backs and start realizing how important the fool installed at the “White” house is.

      • That it bit scary all Americans retaliating burning as much fuel as possible just attempt to “kill the democrats at the polls.” I think they’d first shut off the heat suppliers before we get to that point. They proved they could control us where we shop and how much work we were allowed during Covid-19 pandemic, they’d have no qualms shutting off our local energy supplier like Enstar. Don’t make the weidos angry. I think most people today too simple minded to put 1 and 1 together to make two. They not smart enough to line up the dots who’s responsible. Their panic to the crisis would only usher worse leaders than the last one.

  5. There only two ways that’ll help the cause toward Christ is a suffering as peoples higher heating prices. the suffering could bring more people back to Christ. Or God will give those already in disobedience over to their reprobate mind and let their disobedience harden their hearts even colder like the cold surrounding them. A very sad state to be in when God lets one go on his way cause that one never will turn back. When Christ came the world was in political and religious corruption and turmoil, when Christ returns a second time, that glorious day for those who believe, well scholars conclude the world again will be facing major political and religious corruption and turmoil. You know when the days grow darker and hearts grow colder, we are supposed to be looking up.

  6. This is a nation not a country. They want the Roman Code back because the Roman Code was against natural law – all that God’s talk and it hastens the US Constitution smack down. We won’t have all that talk the about accused facing his accusers and we the people and their sovereign rights. Jesus has got this.

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