President Joe Biden acknowledged that OPEC+ countries won’t increase oil output enough to meet US demands and left the door open to a range of options, as the administration weighs whether to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Biden was responding to a question about using the reserve after the oil-producing group, which includes Saudi Arabia, rejected his request for a large production increase and stuck to its plan for gradual monthly output increases of 400,000 barrels a day.
“First of all, I’m not anticipating that OPEC would respond, that Russia and/or Saudi Arabia would respond,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Saturday. “They’re going to pump some more oil. Whether they pump enough oil is a different thing.”
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday that Biden “is looking at a potential release from the petroleum reserve” to bring down gasoline prices. “The SPR is certainly on the table as an option,” she said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Biden avoided a direct answer on Saturday and suggested that international discussions on the matter are continuing.
“There are other tools in the arsenal that we have to deal and I’m dealing with other countries,” he said. “At an appropriate time I will talk about it, that we can get more energy in the pipeline figuratively and literally speaking.”
Biden is facing pressure to stem rising energy prices as the recovery from the pandemic has sent oil and gasoline prices higher. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded stood at $3.42 as of Thursday, the highest since 2014, according to auto club AAA.
While rising prices at the pump pose a political risk to any US president, Biden has added reason to worry as high energy costs and rising inflation threaten his efforts to pull the economy out of its Covid-19 shock and enact his agenda of social spending and higher taxes on the well-off.