national price of fuel zoomed last year because the government stockpiled
oil, according to a March 5 report by Senate Democrats, which notes
the diversion of 40 million barrels of crude from markets into the
markets tight and oil prices high, refiners dipped into their inventories
to replace the oil going into the reserve, said the report produced
by the Democratic staff of the Senate Governmental Affairs investigations
Carl Levin, D-MI, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee and its
chairman last year, attributed the price spikes to President George
Bush's decision to beef up the country's oil reserves in the
wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Democrat urged Bush to delay oil diversions into the Strategic Petroleum
Reserve in 2003 to ease oil shortages in the U.S. market and to
bring prices down from $30 a barrel. Currently, there are 600 million
barrels of crude – equivalent to four months of oil imports from
the Middle East – stored in salt caverns on the Gulf Coast.
on March 4, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would delay
diversions for April after already postponing them in January and
2002, the Energy Department, which is run by former Michigan GOP
Sen. Spencer Abraham, diverted 40 million barrels of crude oil into
the reserves even as prices for crude oil steadily increased, according
to the study.
Abraham said the government's decision to continue filling the reserve
during most of 2002 didn’t significantly affect energy prices. He
said the amount was too small to have an impact.
principal issue here is national security, and we believe and continue
to believe that enlarging the amount of emergency reserves we have
in the strategic reserve is very important to America's energy and
national security," Abraham said, according to press reports.