Poll Position: Was Obama’s oil release a good move?

The White House caught everyone off-guard Thursday by announcing that it would release about 30 million barrels of crude oil from emergency reserves, as part of a multinational effort aimed at boosting supplies and bringing down gas prices.

In all, members of the International Energy Agency — the oil-importing nations’ answer to the OPEC cartel — plan to release 60 million barrels. The stated rationale was making up for the 1.4 million barrels a day not being supplied due to the Libyan civil war. The fact that crude prices were up almost 20 percent this year, before falling Thursday to a four-month low, was also surely a factor.

So, too, was the agony in the U.S. over gas prices that, in metro Atlanta and elsewhere, hit an average of more than $4 a gallon at one point this spring.

That said, the Associated Press reported two interesting facts about the size and timing of the release:

[T]he 30 million barrels to be sold by the United States represents less than two days’ worth of domestic oil consumption and about three days of oil imports. …

The move comes as retail gasoline prices dropped for the 20th consecutive day, down a penny from Wednesday, to $3.61 per gallon, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That’s about 21 cents lower than a month ago.

Was releasing oil from emergency reserves a good move?

  • No, Obama is just playing politics. (108 Votes)
  • Yes, consumers need relief and the economy needs more consumer spending. (60 Votes)
  • No, this wasn't a true emergency. (29 Votes)
  • No, 30 million barrels won't make a difference in gas prices. (21 Votes)
  • Yes, we still have plenty of reserves. (16 Votes)

Total Voters: 234

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A skeptic might suggest the move is much ado about nothing. A cynic might suggest that President Obama knows that, and was simply trying to pick up a few political points for a development that was already under way. A worrier might suggest that releasing some of the reserves absent a true supply crunch is a reckless thing to do. An optimist might suggest that, with nearly 700 million barrels still in the reserves, such worries are unfounded. A proponent of the move might suggest that anything that eases gas prices and allows consumers to spend money elsewhere is welcome in a fragile economy.

So, which of those arguments do you buy? Answer in the poll to the left and in the comments thread below.

P.S. — Congratulations to the reader who submitted the name chosen for this new Friday poll question feature, Poll Position. The reader has posted under a few names in the past, but the most recent one was Atticus Finch. Congrats, Atticus; you’re entitled to a little mild gloating in the thread should you wish.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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121 comments Add your comment

Fun Guy

June 24th, 2011
6:10 am

happy friday. first

JF McNamara

June 24th, 2011
6:16 am

I’d bet a bag of nickels that the poll will render the decision wrong just because Obama made it.

ByteMe

June 24th, 2011
6:22 am

Why can’t it be both a good move for consumers and playing politics?

The goal of the release is to create some elasticity in supply to help drive some spectators out of the market during the high-demand summer months. Just the announcement (as opposed to the actual release) caused the price of oil to tumble a bunch. Let’s see if that translates into a drop in the price of refined gas, which got a bit disconnected from the price of oil this spring.

I’d like to see this policy happen every summer. Sell enough to keep some extra supply in the market and then slowly buy it back during the fall/early winter when oil demand isn’t as high and prices have dropped further. Turn a profit AND help consumers. How much more political can you get?

Bettina Louise

June 24th, 2011
6:27 am

You left out a valid choice: Yes, Obama is just practicing politics.

Ayn Rant

June 24th, 2011
6:48 am

The release was a good move to dampen speculation. As it was a coordinated release by several nations it will serve to discourage wild excursions in oil prices for a few months. It’s important for the US because it will lower fuel prices in the summer vacation period, and in the fall period when heating oil is delivered. Perhaps it will offset the dampening effect on the economy from the Japanese earthquake disaster.

Besides, the oil reserve needs to be tapped periodically to make sure the process is working. The reserve can be replenished slowly as oil prices fall.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
6:53 am

This is a rediculous wastefull use of our emergency reserves. All that has to be done is to anounce open drilling in our country and prices would immediately begin to drop. Also, reduce restrictions on building refineries.

Joel Edge

June 24th, 2011
6:53 am

It’s throwing something at the wall and and hoping it sticks.

DeborahinAthens

June 24th, 2011
6:56 am

It was brilliant! Not because the amount of oil released means much to us in reality (we use that much oil in one day!), but it sure kicked the patootie out of the speculators that had been running up the contracts. I would have loved to have seen the faces of some of the traders when the news came out of the blue and bit them in the butt! If more countries did this, the speculators would think twice before playing games with our lives. And to those people that don’t believe that these guys are responsible, you are very uninformed. You talk about the need for regulation of an industry…

GW

June 24th, 2011
6:56 am

The release was a clever one. Well played, President Obama. Now let Goldman Sachs explain the artificial rise in aluminum prices as a result of their efforts. Wall Street is the biggest US source of artificially elevated commodity prices and their efforts have nothing to do with true supply and demand effects. It’s purely about manipulative methods in money making.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:00 am

Hey, Speculators buy oil driving up prices when it looks like supply is not going to keep up with demand in the future. If they believe that supplies will increase then they know that prices will drop and they will get out of oil. It is a self fulfilling proficecy. When they thing supplies will go up, They will get out and prices will drop.

Toby

June 24th, 2011
7:04 am

This the same release the Cons were screaming for a couple weeks ago? Should get everyones support then.

Road Scholar

June 24th, 2011
7:06 am

After announcing, the price of oil was $5 lower per barrel! And oil speculators had a lump in their throats!

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:06 am

By the way, we have a 160 year supply of natural gas and a 150 year supply of oil right here in the US. We don’t need any foreign oil. We have used 1 trillion barrels of oil in the history of the US. We have 2 Trillion barrels left in the ground. This whole shortage thing is government make.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:08 am

I mean, “Government made”.

seabeau

June 24th, 2011
7:17 am

We need to quit burning oil for transportion!! We have to save it to lube our industries. Without oil our industries will come to a halt. Transportation can use other means.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:20 am

Another thing, Stock, Bond, and Commodities investors are all “speculators”. Anyone who buys investments is spculating that the price will rise, unless they are shorting of course. SO, oil speculators are investors the believe the price of oil will rise. If they believe that the price will drop they get out which accelerates the decline. Bottom line. They buy into oil if they believe that oil supplies will tighten and sell if they believe they believe supplies will increase in the future. Therefore, if we anounce that will open up drilling prices will immediately drop even if the increase in oil has not happened yet.

ms21701

June 24th, 2011
7:21 am

People please take time and read the entire article before you post. The article states that we would use 30 million barrels of oil in just two days. How is this going to affect the price of gs, maybe drop it by 1-2 cents. Next week it will go up 5 cents to make up the loss from this week. The only solution is to drill for our own oil and become energy independent and quit relying on foreign oil for our own consumption.

destin dawg

June 24th, 2011
7:24 am

Yes DR M… just pitiful politics… Obama is a sick community organizer… now what if we have a hurricane next month or 2.. and Really NEED the petroleum reserve… watch.. it won’t lower gas prices …. got any CHANGE left ??? Vote “em out !!!

destin dawg

June 24th, 2011
7:26 am

Yes !! we need to use Nat. gas for ALL trucking/buses etc… Pickens plan.. No Obama Plan here ??

Road Scholar

June 24th, 2011
7:27 am

ms: yes that is true…if there was no other oil available. This release over time will take the peaks off the supply curve and address demand…at least through the summer.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:28 am

Toby, No right thinking capitalist was screaming for oil release from the oil reserve. Only RINOs and people that are ignorant of economics and capital markets. Of course most people on the left don’t know squat about economics, hence the problems we are having in our economy.

destin dawg

June 24th, 2011
7:32 am

left ( Dems ) = lawyers and Unions = a devil’s brew

GW

June 24th, 2011
7:33 am

And the Libya mess has resulted in a drop of 1.4 million bpd. So Obama and others need to release 42 million barrels for each month of confrontation in Libya. Works for me.

Sick

June 24th, 2011
7:34 am

Obama was behind this. He initiated it. It’s all politics. It’s qe3. And it will have little to no effect when venez and iran cut production.

DUMB

June 24th, 2011
7:35 am

Release it now? Why not when prices were 110 a few weeks ago? Just more idiocy from the gov’t, in this case obuma.

destin dumbass

June 24th, 2011
7:38 am

30 mil bar is 5% of the spr.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:39 am

Destin Dawg, You are exactly right. Is this oil release part of a plan to further weaken america. We will need that oil if Texas and LA. get his again. By the way. Progressives are famout for telling half truths like, “ilegal aliens will do the work that americans won’t do” The rest is “at that price. There two camps of marxists, Violent overthrowers and those who want to overthrough the us progressively. So, the half truth is the left are Progressive. The rest is They are Progressive Marxist. And yes we do need to vote them out of office. Both Republican and Democrat.

Bacchus

June 24th, 2011
7:40 am

Cheap shot at buying some votes. The next flare-up in the Middle East will erase any drops in the oil prices. Just think of this move as a way to depress oil stocks into a “buy” position to make a quick 5%…

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:40 am

Sorry for the typos in my last post.

WillieRae

June 24th, 2011
7:43 am

Obama has shot the wad now, not that it mattered much. After the couple of days of effect wears off, then there is no fear left in the commodities market. Releasing the oil was a pathetic attempt to claim credit for the fall in gas prices that will follow the already falling oil prices. It’s an admission of his impotence and a cynical political ploy.

Buzz G

June 24th, 2011
7:46 am

Why would anyone care if it is good for America? It is good for Obama. He is spreading around the wealth that President Bush put away for a rainy day. Oh Dear Leader Obama, we are not worthy!

GW

June 24th, 2011
7:47 am

Once again Obama has outsmarted his opponents. All they are left with is their continued hate talk and he just tunes that out for the noise that it is.

Whacks Eloquent

June 24th, 2011
7:49 am

While I would not consider the releases vital now (they would have been more helpful a couple of months ago), it is obvious that they have had the desired effect. Gas futures are tumbling, as well as crude – and even though they were headed that direction this accelerated it.

In the long run, I think this will be of little consequence. The reserves will fill back up, and gas and oil will probably steady back out a bit, at least until the next crisis. President Obama did it as a political calculation to help his sagging PR numbers, and the first part of the strategy worked, we’ll see if it gets reflected in the polls. Not sure it really matters this far out from the election though.

DR M

June 24th, 2011
7:52 am

Bacchus, exactly, you are right. Any positive from the release could vaporize over night. Speculating into a buy position is a good idea. Unless the US anounces that they are opening up drilling. I guess that makes you an oil speculator. Me too.

Fletch

June 24th, 2011
7:54 am

Not a big Obama fan, but perhaps you geniuses could explain the motives of the other nations in the IEA. Are you saying that they purposely released their reserves as well to ensure an Obama victory in 2012. If so, please explain your theory as to why. If I like what I hear, I’ll give you a crack at the moon landing and 9/11.

My 2 Cents Worth

June 24th, 2011
7:55 am

Please get the facts before piling on Mr. Obama’s efforts as a political move. I believe there were over twenty other nations whose leaders released their oil reserves also.

Chester Gleaton

June 24th, 2011
7:56 am

drill baby drill !!!!!!!

hsn

June 24th, 2011
7:56 am

Of course, it is a bad move!
To you cons, even if Obama gave a one dollar bill to a homeless person, it will be a bad move.

Al

June 24th, 2011
7:58 am

I would hardly call down 4.5% tumbling.

First Sergeant

June 24th, 2011
8:06 am

GW

June 24th, 2011
7:47 am

GW, you hit the nail on the head. When will these haters ever learn. President Obama is a very, very smart man, with a very smart political administration. He know politics; he’s studied political history and is well suited to be our President. The haters just keep hating as President Obama continues to make smart moves to progress this country. And, “he kicks their butts everytime”. When will they learn that, he is no dummy!!

DR M

June 24th, 2011
8:06 am

WOW, Fletch this a very complicated subject. Different countries have different reasons for releasing their reserves. They don’t have the huge oil reserves that we do. Some of them may do it because it’s a muslim plan. Some, because they know where their bread is buttered and they have to stabalize prices so the global economy doesn’t crash and they lose money because of decreased demand. There is a global plan at work here, and it is not good for us. What ever their reasons, it’s a mistake and we shouldn’[t copy the mistakes of others

Whacks Eloquent

June 24th, 2011
8:07 am

The gas futures have tumbled, not oil. Which is fine in that it’s not actually true commodity pricing. They had been pushing $4 just a little over a month ago, but now under $2.80. By my calcs, that’s about 30%…and it looks like a hockey stick. IMO, that’s a big positive – these idiot futures scammers need to lose some now and then, they have been artificially inflating prices for a few years now!

Fletch

June 24th, 2011
8:08 am

Whacks – “. Not sure it really matters this far out from the election though.”

Exactly. If it was indeed a political ploy, why do it so far away from election time? Oh wait, there is the possibility that the U.S., as a member of the IEA, was actually working in conjunction with other countries in a coordinated release of the oil reserves. Hmmmm…. where could I possibly find proof of this? Perhaps in Kyles own words? “as part of a multinational effort aimed at boosting supplies and bringing down gas prices.

In all, members of the International Energy Agency — the oil-importing nations’ answer to the OPEC cartel — plan to release 60 million barrels.”

Roekest

June 24th, 2011
8:09 am

This stinks so much of politics it almost makes me sick. 30 million barrels is enough for 2 days….2 DAYS!!!!! Does POTUS really think Americans are stupid enough to believe that 30 (or 60) million barrels is going to do anything useful??? Even if we got the 30 million barrels the IEA released, that still wouldn’t cover a weeks’ worth of oil consumption. Whoever runs against Obama in 2012 needs to remind voters that this little stunt was nothing more than that: a stunt. I am completely convinced Obama knows nothing about economics. I know more about economics. How sad is that?

First Sergeant

June 24th, 2011
8:09 am

Fletch

June 24th, 2011
7:54 am
Not a big Obama fan, but perhaps you geniuses could explain the motives of the other nations in the IEA. Are you saying that they purposely released their reserves as well to ensure an Obama victory in 2012. If so, please explain your theory as to why.

Fletch, you can bet that some poster will try to validate the theory. Just plain silly!

Fletch

June 24th, 2011
8:11 am

DR M – “What ever their reasons, it’s a mistake and we shouldn’[t copy the mistakes of others”

True, but if all of our international partners shared that logic, we’d have a pretty rough time going it alone in the world.

Call it like it is

June 24th, 2011
8:12 am

Its all a silly game. If American even starts to talk about drilling oil in Alaska, or more in the gulf, OPEC will respond with more oil, prices will go down and we will be right back where we started. Cheap gas and happy, until the cycle starts again.

Jefferson

June 24th, 2011
8:13 am

What does the last two questions tell us about Kyle?

Two questions would suffice, the second and third.

There is no true shortage, has anyone seen pumps shut down? Bill Clinton was the last president that knew how to control gas prices and he’s not giving up the secret…

If everyone would only buy 4 gallons at a time, in a week the storage tanks would be overflowing, just think how many stations you pass going to work. The oil companies are using your gas tanks as temporary storage. Too many folks that don’t know the value of money, they just want it.

Drew

June 24th, 2011
8:14 am

Yes, it kicked the speculators where it hurt. It would’ve done the same 3 months ago when prices were soaring. It would’ve hurt even more if we’d announced more offshore drilling and opening up ANWAR. Funny how certain people can believe that a one-time release of 30 million barrels can effect a change in oil prices, but increasing our domestic oil production won’t. Funny.

Alex Jones

June 24th, 2011
8:16 am

Well this did occur on the exact same day that it was revealed that both the G8 and NATO summits would be held in – Chicago! Rahm Emanuel is behind all of this!