Joe Biden has long been touted as a “foreign policy expert,” after his years of service on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, even serving as the committee’s ranking member. In the Financial Times, Derek Brower and Myles McCormick report that it was a failure of foreign policy that has driven Biden to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The failure was Biden’s inability to convince Persian Gulf oil-producing states to pump more oil. They write:
Joe Biden’s decision to unleash a torrent of crude from the emergency US reserve is a gamble that he can tame petrol prices in time for November’s midterm elections. But it is also an acknowledgment that American partners in the Gulf are not about to help him out.
The president on Thursday ordered the release of an “unprecedented” 180mn barrels of crude from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to offset supply disruptions triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and push down fuel prices for American motorists.
“This is a moment of consequence and peril for the world and pain at the pump for American families,” Biden said as he announced the release. “The bottom line is, if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now.”
The announcement came just hours after Opec, the Saudi Arabia-led oil alliance, again ignored calls from western politicians including Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson to pump oil more quickly.
Oil prices settled lower after the SPR announcement, with international benchmark Brent down 5 per cent to $108 a barrel but still almost twice the level a year ago. National average petrol prices sat at $4.23, according to the American Automobile Association, up roughly 50 per cent in the past year and just below record levels hit in recent weeks.
The US will release 1mn barrels a day from its reserve for the next 180 days, dwarfing the size of two previous releases Biden announced in November and early March.
But analysts say the SPR move could backfire, conveying panic to an already hot market and leaving the world’s largest emergency oil stockpile dangerously low at a time of mounting threats to supply.
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