(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of Energy announced the loan of 13.4 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic reserve as part of a renewed effort by the Biden administration to contain oil prices that have surged to their highest level since 2014.
The awards to seven companies -- part of a previously announced move -- mark the second-largest exchange of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ever, and bring the total amount of oil released from the cache to nearly 40 million barrels, according to the Energy Department.
The awards are a part of a plan announced in November by President Joe Biden to release 50 million barrels from the SPR in a move coordinated with India, Japan, South Korea and China that marked an unprecedented effort to reduce prices and ease OPEC’s stranglehold on supply.
U.S. crude prices are now higher than they were in October, when the Biden administration began touting plans to release the country’s emergency reserves. This year alone, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices have gained more than 13% as demand recovery has outpaced available supply.