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Drivers react to Biden tapping the nation’s oil reserve to reduce energy and gasoline prices

Tulane energy expert weighs in on whether the move will help
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:56 PM CST
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The Biden administration is tapping into the nation's oil reserves to try to alleviate...
The Biden administration is tapping into the nation's oil reserves to try to alleviate skyrocketing gas prices

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As millions of Americans travel for Thanksgiving, gas prices remain up. President Joe Biden has ordered the release of millions of gallons of oil from the nation’s emergency stockpile in hopes of driving down gas prices.

Yogi Shlomo filled up his business’ vehicle in New Orleans.

“I think the price of gasoline is high,” said Shlomo.

He is traveling to another state for the holiday.

“I live in Miami, I’m here for business. I drive here from Miami, so I’m definitely feeling the gas prices. I’m going back to Miami for Thanksgiving,” said Shlomo.

Susan Packowski fueled her vehicle and said her family is limited time behind the wheel.

“We’re trying to cut down, yes, not drive so much,” said Packowski.

Aware of the pain at the pump for Americans, Biden ordered 50 million barrels of oil be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in coordination with other major energy-consuming nations, including China, India and the United Kingdom. The move is aimed at global energy markets.

Prof. Eric Smith is with Tulane University’s Energy Institute.

“Fifty million barrels, it sounds like a lot of oil, and it is, it’s like 25 big tankers full but at the end of the day, it’s not very much in terms of what we consume,” said Smith.

Smith assessed Biden’s decision this way: “My reaction is that it was probably a required political move, but it will have no practical effect that you’ll be able to discern when you go to fill up your car.”

Demand for gasoline is growing as progress is made in fighting the pandemic.

“The economies that were put on hold are starting to get active again,” said Smith.

Further, he said the U.S. does not control oil and gasoline prices.

“Just using it because you’re unhappy with the price of gasoline in the world market and believe it or not we don’t set the price of gasoline in the world market or of crude oil. The world sets that price,” said Smith.

Smith said the oil that’s being released by the president has to be sold to oil companies. Of course, then it has to be refined before it makes it to gas pumps.

“If you consider the fact that it’s going to take weeks if not months to get any of this oil actually delivered to somebody where it can be converted into gasoline and what have you, that’s not going to have a very long-term effect on oil and hence on price,” said Smith.

While he opposes tapping into the reserve to help gas prices, he added that Biden is not the first president to do so.

“It’s not something that’s unique to President Biden, virtually every president, including his predecessor President Trump, has done the same sorts of things for admittedly different reasons, but they have all been tempted to use the crude reserve as a price manipulation weapon,” said Smith.

But, drivers seem pleased with the president’s decision.

“Awesome, that’s great. I love it,” said Shlomo.

Packowski said, “I think he’s just trying to help people before the holidays.”

The reserve was tapped right after Hurricane Ida as some refineries were offline and lines at gas pumps were very long.

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