With talk growing of another release of oil from the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it’s worth reviewing recent history.
Last June, when President Obama last ordered a release from the U.S. reserves, oil was trading at $95.41 a barrel. It dropped about $5 over the next few days, but quickly shot back up and two weeks after the announcement the price was right back where it was before the release was announced.
The government maintains a strategic reserve of up to 727 million barrels of oil. It was at capacity last year when Mr. Obama ordered a release of 30 million barrels. As of the end of February, its capacity stood at 695.9 million barrels.
Previous releases from the reserve have had a mixed record in affecting market prices.
Democrats said a 1991 oil release in the middle of the first Gulf War dropped prices at the pump by 33.4 percent, and said a 2000 release by President Clinton lowered prices by 18.7 percent. President George W. Bush’s 2005 move to stop filling the reserve dropped prices 9.1 percent.
Those numbers showed declining returns over the years, and analysts said that is one reason why Mr. Obama’s recent release didn’t have much lasting effect at all: The world market is far bigger than it used to be, thus the release of U.S. reserves has less impact.