DOE cancels purchases for strategic oil reserve

By Shelby Webb | 04/04/2024 06:21 AM EDT

The department cited rising crude prices, which topped $84 a barrel this week.

A nozzle pumps gasoline into a vehicle at a gas station

A nozzle pumps gasoline into a vehicle at a gas station in Los Angeles. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Energy canceled two major purchases to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve on Wednesday — a signal that the Biden administration may slow or pause replenishment of the reserve as oil prices rise.

DOE will not award contracts to supply the SPR with a total of 3 million barrels of crude oil in August and September, as prices topped $84 per barrel of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate. The agency cited the need to keep “the taxpayer’s interest at the forefront,” but said it would “continue to solicit available capacity as market conditions allow.”

“As always, we monitor market dynamics to remain nimble and innovative in our successful replenishment approach to protect this critical national security asset,” DOE said in a statement.


The agency has previously said it would not replenish the SPR if oil prices reached above $79 a barrel. But DOE announced last week — when barrel prices were at $81 — that it would spend $225.6 million on 2.8 million barrels of crude for the SPR’s Big Hill cavern in Texas.