Barrasso Introduces Bill To Block Biden From Selling U.S. Oil Reserves To China

After the U.S. agreed to sell one million barrels of oil to China, Sen. John Barrasso introduced legislation that would prohibit the Biden administration from selling any future oil reserves to China.

Clair McFarland

August 04, 20223 min read

Collage Maker 04 Aug 2022 03 58 PM

Wyoming’s senior U.S. Senator last week introduced legislation to keep China out of American oil reserves, days after the U.S. agreed to sell nearly one million barrels of stockpiled oil to China.  

Sen. John Barrasso is the lead sponsor on a bill requiring the U.S. Secretary of Energy not to sell oil to America’s geopolitical foes, or to state-owned groups working with those countries.  

“The (Energy) Department’s sale of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to a company owned by China… is inexcusable,” Barrasso wrote in a July 21 letter to Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary.  

The department on July 11 announced it had landed contracts to sell one million barrels from the reserve per day, for six months, in hopes of easing global supply disruptions resulting from the war in Ukraine. One of the companies that landed a contract was Unipec America, which is a branch of China-owned Sinopec. Unipec’s contract is for 950,000 barrels.  

‘Key Oil Reserves To Our Adversaries’ 

Barrasso called the move a national security compromise. He also called upon President Joe Biden’s administration to “unleash… the full force of American energy.”  

“Continued energy independence and energy security will not come from exporting key oil reserves to our adversaries,” wrote Barrasso.  

He attached a list of questions for Granholm, including inquiries such as “why was this purchase approved?” as well as who authorized it, what the process looked like, and whether conflicts of interest were reviewed.  

Religious Freedom, Geopolitical Foes 

Barrasso’s bill countering future sales to China is still in its infancy. He introduced it July 28; the Senate then referred it to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  

It bars sale of U.S. oil reserves to countries “of particular concern for religious freedom” under the International Religious Freedom Act. Those include China, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Burma, Turkmenistan and Eritrea.  

If it passes, the bill also would ban oil-reserve sales to countries sanctioned or boycotted by the U.S.  

State agencies that buy oil from such countries would be cut out of oil reserve sales, as well, if Barrasso’s bill becomes law.  

Trump’s Export 

Numerous media outlets following the sale were quick to point to a 2017 export orchestrated under former President Donald Trump, of about a half-million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to PetroChina.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter