White House omitted blame on Russia in previous tap into US strategic petroleum reserves

White House said in November that oil reserves would be deployed in installments to ease rising gas prices

The White House announced in November the decision to release tens of millions of barrels worth of oil from the country's strategic reserves to alleviate rising gas prices over "the next several months," but didn't pin any blame on Russia for increasing energy costs.

As the Russia-Ukraine war unfolded and gas prices began to skyrocket, the Biden administration and allies committed to collectively releasing 60 million barrels from petroleum reserves. 

Currently, the U.S. is facing extremely expensive gas prices due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and newly announced ban on all Russian oil imports.

However, President Biden this week said he "can’t do much right now" about soaring gas prices in the United States while also pinning the blame on Russia.


Gas prices, all over the $5 per gallon mark, are displayed at a gas station in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Gas prices, all over the $5 per gallon mark, are displayed at a gas station in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Monday, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli / AP Newsroom)

"It’s going to go up," Biden told a reporter when asked about gas prices on Tuesday. "Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible."

Biden has been criticized by both sides of the aisle for high gas prices, which have risen sharply under his administration even before Russia’s invasion, and many have publicly called for him to open up oil and gas drilling in the United States to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

In November, President Biden's administration deployed 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to counteract the soaring gas prices the U.S. public was experiencing at the pump at the end of last year. The deployment of the oil was aimed at suppressing prices until the end of the surge, which the White House specifically attributed to the pandemic.

However, in making the announcement, the administration did not make any mention of Russia, despite pinning all blame for increasing costs on the country just a few months later.

On March 1, Energy Sec.Jennifer Granholm committed to collectively releasing 60 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserves, in conjunction with allies of the U.S., 30 million of which would come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

"Today, I chaired an emergency ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) – founded 50 years ago by the U.S. and other allies – where the United States and 30 other member countries, supported by the European Commission, agreed to collectively release an initial 60 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves. This decision reflects our common commitment to address significant market and supply disruptions related to President Putin’s war on Ukraine. 

"In line with this decision, President Biden authorized me to make an initial commitment on behalf of the United States of 30 million barrels of oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We stand prepared to take additional measures if conditions warrant," Granhom stated.


The Biden administration had said that the petroleum reserves would begin rebuilding their holdings to ensure the emergency resources would not be depleted.

"32 million barrels will be an exchange over the next several months, releasing oil that will eventually return to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the years ahead. The exchange is a tool matched to today’s specific economic environment, where markets expect future oil prices to be lower than they are today, and helps provide relief to Americans immediately and bridge to that period of expected lower oil prices," the White House said in November. "18 million barrels will be an acceleration into the next several months of a sale of oil that Congress had previously authorized."



At the gas station. (iStock / iStock)

The Biden administration is currently looking at other alternatives to importing energy, including potentially buying more oil from Iran and Venezuela after its announced ban on Russian oil.

However, the administration is receiving criticism by lawmakers who say that the U.S. should not be purchasing oil from other authoritarian regimes.

Fox News' Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.