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“We will lose 13 percent of production this year,” he said. “We can get American energy on line if we simply grant the permits.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” put the blame for rising prices squarely on the shoulders of the president.

“This administration has been shutting down wells,” he said. “It has been a conscious effort to make it difficult to drill in this country, both on shore and offshore, by the bureaucrats who have been appointed by this administration.”

Mr. Obama has pushed back against his Republican critics.

His administration, he said, is assessing underdeveloped on-shore and offshore leases in an effort to encourage companies to maximize existing production.

Each of the past three presidents has manipulated the reserve to try to influence global prices.

President George H.W. Bush used the reserve after the invasion of Kuwait, and President Clinton tapped the supplies in 2000 to push down prices, which were then in the $30 per barrel range.

President George W. Bush used the reserve when the U.S. attacked Iraq in 2001 and again after Hurricane Katrina shut down Gulf Coast refineries.

Analysts say prices could drop anywhere from 5 cents to 25 cents a gallon — or more, depending on the size of any potential release from the stocks.

The reserve is held in crude, which would have to be processed through the American refinery system before it could effect the nation’s fuel supply.