Running low: US strategic oil reserve reaches lowest level in decades

There are always a lot of stories about the price of gasoline, how it impacts your wallet and how it may impact your holiday travel. But the truth is, the story about the price of gasoline is also about politics because high prices can impact elections and can hurt economies.

Things like hurricanes, high temperatures, and production in the Middle East and U.S. Midwest are all factors that can impact the price of gas. Major international events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can impact prices, too.

So far, Israel’s war with Hamas has not impacted gas, and prices in many places across the U.S. have actually dropped. However, experts warn that could change if the conflict widens to other countries in the Middle East that are major oil producers.

In response to the U.S. helping Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Arab nations blocked oil from flowing to the U.S. In fact, prices soared so much that it prompted President Gerald Ford to create what is known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to protect the U.S. from future similar events. 

The reserve is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, located in underground caverns along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, according to the Department of Energy. Over the years, U.S. presidents have relied on this reserve whenever there is international tension.

The issue today is the reserve has been greatly depleted under the current president.

Over 200 million barrels of crude oil have been pulled out by President Joe Biden since the beginning of last year — around 40% of what was stored.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm has repeatedly told Congress that there are no current worries about the state of the country’s reserve or production of oil, for that matter. The White House has also said there are plans to replenish the reserve in the future.

However,  it’s a topic worth keeping an eye on as the conflict in the Middle East continues and questions remain about what could happen next.