In a move with major political, economic, and foreign policy implications, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Thursday that the U.S. and its partners in the International Energy Agency will release a total of 60 million barrels of oil onto the world market over the next 30 days to offset the disruption in the oil supply caused by unrest in the Middle East. The U.S. will release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
This is only the third time the U.S. has tapped the emergency oil reserve since its creation in 1973 in response to the Arab oil embargo. President George H.W. Bush authorized an emergency oil release during the first Gulf War in 1991, and President George W. Bush released 11 million barrels in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, to help ease gasoline prices.