How did China get access to the American petroleum reserve?
Many Americans are now asking that question thanks to a Tuesday report from Reuters.
According to the report, millions of barrels of oil from the United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) were exported to Europe and Asia in June as the U.S. continued to face an economic crisis.
The barrels were initially released as part of a “historic” effort to lower domestic fuel prices before making their way overseas.
“More than 5 million barrels of oil that were part of a historic U.S. emergency oil reserves release aimed at lowering domestic fuel prices were exported to Europe and Asia last month, according to data and sources, even as U.S. gasoline and diesel prices touched record highs,” Reuters reported.
Reuters identified various U.S. refiners as having shipped reserves overseas.
Phillips 66, the fourth-largest oil refiner in the nation, shipped roughly 470,000 barrels of SPR oil to Trieste, Italy.
“Trieste is home to a pipeline that sends oil to refineries in central Europe,” Reuters reported.
Atlantic Trading & Marketing (ATMI), a subsidiary of the French TotalEnergies, also “exported 2 cargoes of 560,000 barrels each.”
Additional cargoes were exported to the Netherlands, India, China and other European countries.
One oil analyst told Reuters that the release of national reserves “isn’t really having the effect that was assumed” on U.S. domestic oil prices.
According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $4.80 as of Tuesday.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly placed the blame for high gas prices and limited oil supply at the feet of U.S. oil. On more than one occasion, Biden has implied that the greed of oil companies is to blame for rising prices.
In an open letter sent to the oil industry on June 15, Biden demanded that “companies must take immediate actions” to increase supply.
“High refinery profit margins being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable… companies must take immediate actions to increase the supply of gasoline, diesel and other refined product,” Biden wrote according to CNBC.
But, according to the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. refineries are operating at 94 percent capacity, which is “among the highest in the world.”
On Saturday, the president turned his focus to the gas stations themselves, demanding that “the companies running gas stations” set lower prices.
Many have pushed back on Biden’s criticisms, including even Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, who claimed that Biden’s analysis was “either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.”