The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on Friday it will sell 18 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) on December 17, as part of a previous plan to try to reduce gasoline prices, Reuters reported.
The Biden administration announced last month it would release about 50 million barrels from its reserves in conjunction with other consumer countries including China, India, and South Korea to combat the rising cost of fuel.
“The President rightly believes Americans deserve relief now and has authorized the use of the SPR to respond to market imbalances and reduce costs for consumers," said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
The 18 million barrels to be sold had already been approved by Congress in previous years. The remaining barrels will be issued in coming months through exchanges that will have to be returned to the SPR with interest.
The first exchange of 4.8 million barrels will be with Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the largest U.S. oil company, the department said.
"As DOE moves forward with the sale, exchange requests will continue to be accepted from interested parties and approved as appropriate to address supply disruptions," the department said.
The United States holds roughly 600 million barrels of crude oil in giant caverns in Texas and Louisiana. Its current inventory is at its lowest since 2003.