Coronavirus price crash could see US stockpile 1B barrels of oil: energy secretary

Senate Democrats have blocked some of the administration's energy plans

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Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said he's looking into reserving up to 1 billion barrels of oil through the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the direction of President Trump on "Mornings with Maria" on Monday.

"Under the U.S. federal law we are authorized as part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reserve up to one billion barrels of oil," Brouillette said. "We're going to continue that conversation on the Hill and pursue this opportunity because it's just a great opportunity for the taxpayer right at the moment. Oil prices being where they are, it's a great time to fill this petroleum reserve."

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., touted in March that Senate Democrats eliminated a "$3 billion bailout for big oil" in the latest stimulus package and blocked the president from using the funds to buy low-priced oil for the stockpile.

Plans to allow the oil industry to store inventory in the stockpile appear to still be on, according to Brouillette. Reuters had reported last week that the administration's plan to lease space to energy companies was canceled.

Gas USA sells gas for 97.9 cents a gallon March 30 in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

"Because demand is down, storage becomes the only option," Brouillette said. "We have approximately 77 million barrels left in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and we're making that available to the industry. ... [The president's] directed me not only to continue the program that we announced this week, but also to look for additional storage capacities all throughout the country, be they commercially or government available."

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Brouillette also addressed Trump's statement on Sunday that he would consider putting tariffs on oil imports since Russia and Saudi Arabia have not ended their oil price war. Brouillette said that "all options are on the table."

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"I would use tariffs if I had to," Trump said Sunday. "But I don’t think I'm going to have to, because Russia doesn't benefit by having this and Saudi Arabia doesn't benefit by having this. Oil and gas are their major sources of income so it's obviously very bad for them."

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