Valero, Marathon Top Buyers in Biden’s First Oil Reserves Sale
(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. were the biggest buyers in the Biden Administration’s first sale of crude from U.S. emergency stockpiles in a bid to bring down gasoline pump prices.
Six companies bought 18.1 million barrels of high-sulfur crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve caverns in a sale tender that closed Jan. 4, the U.S. Energy Department said Wednesday. The U.S. had earlier offered 32 million barrels in a crude loan program.
Oil prices started falling in late October after President Joe Biden signaled he was working to arrange an internationally coordinated release of crude from the reserves of several major consumers. The omicron virus variant then pushed prices down further, although oil has since recovered to levels near where it was before the reserve sales were flagged.
The U.S. national average gasoline price at the pump rose to $3.303 per gallon last week, the highest since Dec. 19, according to auto club AAA.
The SPR crude will be delivered in February and March. Valero bought 8.2 million barrels and Marathon took 3.9 million. Other buyers included Motiva Enterprises LLC, which purchased 3 million barrels, as well as Gunvor Group Ltd., Phillips 66 and Exxon Mobil Corp.
In a separate effort to cool retail gasoline prices, the DOE has so far awarded nearly 8 million barrels of SPR crude in an exchange program to Marathon, Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
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