Oil was down Monday morning in Asia, with U.S President Joe Biden facing increasing pressure to release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) amid soaring gasoline prices.
Brent oil futures fell 0.89% to $81.44 by 10:28 PM ET (3:28 AM GMT) and WTI futures fell 0.90% to $78.97.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer called for Biden to release SPR oil over the weekend, adding that consumers needed immediate relief at the gas pump.
“The White House has been debating how to tackle higher inflation, with some officials calling for the strategic reserve to be tapped, or halting U.S. exports,” ANZ analysts said in a report.
However, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told CNN, “The president has made clear that all options are on the table,” adding “we’re monitoring the situation very carefully.”
Investors have been focused on whether the U.S. would release SPR reserves after crude climbed to a seven-year high in October. Biden’s request to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, or OPEC+, to raise crude production more quickly has also fallen on deaf ears.
However, some investors think that the U.S. also has other options, albeit limited, besides tapping the SPR.
“There seems to be a limited number of cards the U.S. can use to fight inflation, which are an SPR release, interest rate hike, and easing restrictions on Iranian oil exports,” VI Investment Corp senior commodities analyst Will Sungchil Yun told Bloomberg.
“The quickest solution that has a longer-lasting impact would be Iran. That would push prices down with added supply.”