The Biden administration announced plans Thursday to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) two years after Democrats blocked the Trump administration’s similar, but cheaper proposal.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said it would initiate a long-term SPR replenishment plan involving a purchase of 60 million barrels of oil that would likely occur in 2023, according to the announcement. President Joe Biden has ordered a 50-million-barrel SPR release in November, a 30-million-barrel release on March 1 and a 180-million-barrel release on March 31 to combat rising gasoline prices.
Propane heating costs in the U.S. rocketed to $2.59 per gallon this month, the highest level in a decade, as winter quickly approaches, the federal government said Friday.
The average cost of propane during the first four weeks of the current winter season, which begins in October, was 49% higher than last year, according to an Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. The agency noted that the low propane supply is a major reason for the increased prices.
“U.S. propane and propylene inventories are starting this winter season lower than in recent years; weekly U.S. inventories are averaging 28% lower than the same time last year and 21% lower than their recent five-year (2015–2020) average,” the report stated.
A shortage of workers has contributed to a significant crude oil production slowdown in North Dakota, the second-largest U.S. oil hub behind only Texas.
The labor shortage has caused oil output to become “flat as a pancake,” North Dakota State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told The Bismarck Tribune. Energy companies have struggled to find workers needed to do the laborious work — injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to extract oil — associated with fracking.
“Most of these folks went to Texas where activity was still significantly higher than it was here, where they didn’t have winter and where there were jobs in their industry,” Helms said, according to the Tribune. “It’s going to take higher pay and housing incentives and that sort of thing to get them here.”