The U.S. Department of Energy said on Jan. 18 it had approved an exchange of 400,000 barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for release to Atlantic Trading and Marketing Inc., an arm of French company TotalEnergies.

This latest swap is the fifth since the Biden administration in November announced the release of up to 50 million barrels of oil from the SPR, a series of heavily guarded caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts, to help control oil prices that hit seven-year highs.

Companies that receive SPR crude oil through the exchange agree to return the amount of crude oil received, as well as an additional amount counting as interest.


US Energy Dept Awards More Companies Crude Oil from Strategic Reserves

After mostly falling since the November announcement, Brent oil prices have again hit their highest level since 2014, above $87/bbl, on worries about potential supply disruptions after Yemen’s Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates.

Combined, the Energy Department has so far released more than 8 million barrels of the 32 million in exchanges of SPR oil outlined in November. This month it also announced the results of a sale of 18 million barrels of SPR oil which was part of the release.

The U.S. for the first time coordinated with other consuming countries, such as China, India and South Korea on concerted releases of oil from national reserves. China will release crude from its stockpiles around the Lunar New Year holidays as part of that plan, sources said last week.