WASHINGTON — Americans will see prices at the pump fall “before long,” President Joe Biden said after tapping U.S. oil reserves to ease price pressures and risk a feud with OPEC.
In a tweet Saturday while the president was in Nantucket, he said the U.S. effort to ease gasoline prices spans the globe but will soon reach stations across the U.S. “It will take time, but before long you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank,” he said.
Biden announced this week that he’d release 50 million barrels of reserves — in addition to similar moves by China, Japan, India, South Korea and the U.K. — after OPEC and its allies balked at raising production. It marked an unprecedented coordinated effort to reduce prices and ease OPEC’s stranglehold on supply.
The move didn’t spur a sharp fall in crude prices, but the decline came a few days later, when news of the omicron variant of the coronavirus triggered a market selloff. West Texas Intermediate oil, the U.S. benchmark crude price, closed 13% lower, the biggest drop since April 2020.
OPEC and its allies are increasingly inclined to abandon a planned January production increase in the face of the virus and the release of crude, including from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR.
Biden is under domestic political pressure to ease inflation, and gas prices in particular, as Americans grapple with price spikes while the economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SPR announcement had a muted effect on markets. Much of the oil will need to be returned to the stockpile by the refiners who buy it, and other countries’ contributions were smaller than expected. After an initial dip in prices, oil gained more than a $1 a barrel after Tuesday’s announcement.