President Biden approved a record release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) earlier this spring to address rising gas prices.
The Department of Energy announced on Wednesday that it will seek bids to buy 60 million barrels of oil.
The bidding will begin in the fall to refill around a third of the 180 million barrels released in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The department said in a statement that the buyback and subsequent delivery had been scheduled for when oil prices are expected to have decreased significantly. It didn’t say when the package will be delivered.
“The United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the world’s largest emergency supply,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement, “is a valuable tool to protect the American economy and consumers from supply disruptions — whether caused by domestic emergencies or petro-dictators weaponizing access to energy resources.”
She added, “As we are thoughtful and methodical in the decision to drawdown from our emergency reserve, we must be similarly strategic in replenishing the supply so that it stands ready to deliver on its mission to provide relief when needed most.”
The department stated that it will take steps to relax buyback laws to allow competitive bidding instead of the traditional index-pricing system used for SPR sales. The buyback is distinct from Congress-mandated SPR sales, which the agency estimates would total roughly 265 million barrels between fiscal years 2023 and 2031.
Late in March, Biden announced the SPR’s largest-ever release — 180 million barrels over six months — to counteract price rises that had started months before and were worsened by the Ukraine conflict.
The government has previously announced SPR releases of 30 million barrels in March and 50 million barrels in November.
The administration has attempted to pin the blame for rising oil prices on the invasion while also taking several steps to lower costs at the pump, including the SPR release and a waiver that will allow previously forbidden sales of ethanol-heavy fuels.