September 26, 2022 [San Antonio Express-News] – As the U.S. plans more releases from its oil reserves as part of an effort to tame U.S. fuel prices, a new analysis shows Valero Energy Corp. has been the biggest beneficiary.
The San Antonio refiner snapped up 52.7 million barrels, nearly half the total offered so far, according to a Reuters analysis of Department of Energy data. Valero, the second-largest U.S. refiner by capacity, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Biden administration began tapping the reserves in May in a historic drawdown of the reserve to reduce record-high fuel prices and ease a supply crunch stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has set the release of a total of 173.8 million barrels since March, a figure that includes volumes associated with an earlier round of tenders. Not all have been sold.
But they have slashed the reserve to 427.2 million barrels — or about four weeks of demand — the lowest level in 38 years. This week, the Energy Department said it’s set to sell as much as 10 million barrels more for delivery in November.
So far, the two biggest receivers have acquired nearly 98 million barrels. No. 2 after Valero was top oil processor Marathon Petroleum, which snapped up 45.2 million barrels, according to Reuters.
Other big buyers included Exxon Mobil with 24.7 million barrels, Motiva Enterprises at 22.1 million, Shell at 15.2 million and Phillips 66 at 16 million.
Marathon Petroleum declined to comment to Reuters on crude sourcing. Other companies did not respond to requests for comment.
Most of the oil was sold via auctions at prices determined by a five-day average around the date of delivery. A smaller quantity was exchanged and typically requires receivers to replace the oil with a slightly larger volume. The reserve will be replenished via contracts to purchase oil in the future at fixed, preset prices.
President Joe Biden has taken credit for the releases driving down gasoline prices, which have begun rising again after a 99-day run of lower prices. In San Antonio, drivers were paying $3.07 for a gallon of regular gasoline Thursday, a penny less than a week ago and about 26 cents less than a month ago.
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