Trump Orders Department of Energy to Replenish U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Coronavirus Era

President Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, right listen. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump announced during his press conference on Friday on the coronavirus outbreak that the United States will be replenishing its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to ensure the nation’s energy security.

“Based on the price of oil, I’ve also instructed the Secretary of Energy to purchase at a very good price large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. strategic reserve,” Trump said at the press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

“We’re going to fill it right up to the top, saving the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars, helping our oil industry [and furthering] that wonderful goal — which we’ve achieved, which nobody thought was possible — of energy independence,” Trump said.

Trump’s announcement follows market turmoil in the international market when Russia and Saudi Arabia’s negotiations recently broke down and the Saudis announced they were increasing production.

The industry reacted positively to the president’s announcement, CNBC reported.

“It is a fantastic idea,” John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital said in the CNBC report. “The SPR is one of the few levers that the U.S. can pull in times of oil market tumult.”

“It has served the country well when supplies get tight or otherwise become unavailable during times of natural disasters or geopolitical turmoil,” Kilduff said. “Releases of supplies have served to short-circuit price rallies in the past, and this filling may well serve to ebb the current sell-off.”

“Russia, the world’s second-largest producer, does not appear willing to return to its agreement with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has kept oil in a range around $30 a barrel for much of the last week,” CNBC reported.

Saudia Arabia is the de facto leader of OPEC.

CNBC reported on Trump’s decision as it relates to the coronavirus:

The move to purchase more oil for the U.S. reserve also came as part of the administration’s response of supporting the American economy that’s trying to determine to what extend the novel coronavirus will impact growth. Trump declared a national state of emergency in his Friday speech from the Rose Garden.

The Department of Energy describes the importance of the SPR:

Established in the aftermath of the 1973-74 oil embargo, the SPR was established to counter a disruption in commercial oil supplies which could threaten the U.S. economy. It is also the critical component for the United States to meet its International Energy Agency obligation to maintain emergency oil stocks.

At the press conference, Trump declared a national state of emergency to free up money to help states deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

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