What will the real impact of the release of million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Reserve be on the price of gas on the Seacoast?

President Joe Biden, who called recent jumps in prices "Putin's price hike" during a White House announcement on Thursday, blamed oil companies that refuse to increase production for the dramatic price increases.

"No American company should take advantage of a pandemic or Vladimir Putin’s actions to enrich themselves at the expense of American families," Biden said.

The president said that one million barrels per day will be released per day for the next six months.

"This is a wartime bridge to increase oil supply until production ramps up later this year. And it is by far the largest release from our national reserve in our history," Biden said.

AAA spokesman Dan Goodman told Seacoast Current that prices have started to trend down and were around the $105 per barrel mark as of Thursday because of the release, which is the largest Strategic Reserve release ever.

"While the pump price impact will be determined by the exact amount of oil purchased in the market, and the length of the release we expect the market will most likely see downward pressure on oil prices and lower prices at the pump for consumers," Goodman said.

The global oil market is highly volatile, so anything that threatens supply or demand can put upward pressure on oil prices, according to Goodman.

Gas price map for 4/1/22
Gas price map for 4/1/22 (AAA)

Praise for the Release

Sen. Maggie Hassan said she has been pushing the Biden administration to do the release.

"I’ve continued to call on the administration to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help address high oil and gas prices. Granite Staters need relief, and this is one important step that could bring down costs," Hassan said on her Twitter account.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was hopeful prices would come down with the release.

"With gas prices soaring in NH & across the country, I applaud (Biden's) new steps to address this crisis, from increasing supply to stopping oil execs from prioritizing profits at the expense of consumers. I’ll keep pushing to reduce gas prices & enhance our energy independence," Shaheen said.

How About a Gas Tax Holiday?

Hassan has also introduced legislation for a federal gas tax "holiday."

Gov. Chris Sununu has favored a suspension of the state gas tax but has not been able to get any legislative traction on a plan. Senate President Chuck Morse, however, reversed course on Thursday and told the Union Leader he will back Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley’s proposed one month break from the tax in June.

NH Democratic party chairman Ray Buckley called out Morse on his change of mind.

"After weeks of only parroting Big Oil talking points and getting in the way of bipartisan progress to lower costs, Chuck Morse is finally following Senator Hassan’s lead and saying he’ll stop blocking efforts to suspend the state gas tax," Buckley tweeted.

The average price of regular in New Hampshire was $4.148 on Friday, continuing its's slow drop since hitting the highest prices ever on March 11 of $4.297,  according to a AAA survey of prices. Maine's average was also $4.183, while Massachusetts' average is $4.216.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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