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The Senate on Thursday passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would ban sales of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia.
The effort, which passed the Senate 85-12, was spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Under President Joe Biden, the SPR has been drained to 40-year lows.
“We know China has been amassing the largest stockpile of crude in the world. Nevertheless, last year, the United States sold off part of our reserves to China. I have been working with Senator Manchin to prohibit such inexplicably reckless moves in a bipartisan way. Our amendment prevents the federal government from selling oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea. We should not be selling our emergency oil reserves to our adversaries,” Cruz said.
Manchin, a critic of the Biden administration’s energy policy, also warned about American oil going to China.
“Following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. ramped up production and exports to help meet global demand. It had been devastating to the world. China, on the other hand, stockpiled oil and held back refinery production and while China was stockpiling, one of its state-owned companies purchased over 1.4 million barrels from the United States of America, the people of our great country, from our own stock of reserves. That’s what we’re trying to stop,” the West Virginia Democrat said.
In January, the House passed a similar measure. Republicans at the time were joined by over 100 Democrats after Republicans raised concerns last year about the Biden administration selling nearly a million barrels from the reserve to a Chinese state-controlled crude giant.
As part of a 180-million-barrel drawdown through which the government sought to stabilize global oil markets and combat rising gasoline prices, the Biden administration announced in July 2022 a number of contracts for the purchase of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Among those contracts to 14 companies was one for about 950,000 barrels awarded to Unipec America, a subsidiary of Communist Party-owned Sinopec Corp.
“The original intent of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was to ensure that America had sufficient oil reserves in the event of an emergency,” Cruz said Thursday. “We are unnecessarily and dangerously undermining our national security in any instance that we sell any part of this stockpile to the Chinese Communist Party or any company under its control.”