Jan 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department said on
Thursday it had sold 18 million barrels of strategic crude oil
reserves to six companies, including Exxon Mobil and a
unit of refiner Valero Energy Corp, after saying last
year it would sell reserves to try to tamp down rising oil
The Biden administration said last year that it would
accelerate a previously approved sale of barrels - and loan out
another 32 million barrels of crude - to try to lower oil prices
that had reached multiyear highs. After a brief sell-off, the
oil market's rally has resumed its upward path.
The largest bidder was Valero Marketing and Supply, which
bought more than 8 million barrels, the Energy Department said
in a statement on Thursday.
The other buyers were refiners Phillips 66, Motiva
Enterprises and Marathon Petroleum, along with merchant
firm Gunvor USA and Exxon Mobil, the department said.
The U.S. strategic reserve was established in the 1970s
after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. It currently holds nearly 600
million barrels of crude in caverns in Louisiana and Texas,
enough for several months of supply.
In 2018, Congress mandated through the bipartisan Budget Act
a total sale of 30 million barrels during fiscal years 2022 to
A total of 14 companies submitted 111 bids for evaluation.
The SPR plans to schedule deliveries between Feb. 1 and
March 31, with early deliveries available in January if
arrangements can be made, the department said.
The Energy Department has also already approved four
exchanges of crude oil as part of the 32 million it has
committed for loans. Companies that receive SPR crude oil
through the exchange agree to return the amount of crude oil
received, as well as an additional amount, depending on the
length of time they hold the oil.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru
Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)