Dems Urge Bodman to Suspend SPR Adds Until Prices Fall

Several Democrats including Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) yesterday urged the Energy Department to suspend deliveries to the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, claiming the additions are making oil price spikes worse.

Oil prices reached more than $90 per barrel in trading yesterday, the latest in a string of record highs.

A letter from Bingaman and six others says continued deliveries violate congressional intentions that DOE should avoid adverse effects on prices when making decisions about SPR additions.

"Congress intended for the department to use a market-based approach to determining when to fill the SPR," the letter states. "We are concerned that the department's decision to fill the SPR under current market conditions is inconsistent with these statutory requirements."

DOE deposited 2.6 million barrels of oil into the SPR in September and plans to add another 6 million over the next few months, the letter states. It says this sends a message that the administration is "comfortable with current price levels."

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters last Friday that additions to the SPR are not significant enough to affect oil prices, noting that the United States uses more than 21 million barrels of oil each day.

Other senators on the letter are: Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

The SPR has a capacity of 727 million barrels and currently holds roughly 693 million barrels.

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