Status: 11/22/2021 10:28 a.m.

Energy prices around the world are high – also in the USA. Petrol prices rose by a good 40 percent in the past year. This is a problem not only for consumers, but also for President Biden.

By Claudia Sarre, ARD-Studio Washington

Drivers in the US capital Washington are angry. Gasoline prices are higher than they have been in seven years. Taxi driver Julius is outraged – and has now retired because of the high prices, at the age of 78. And Soriya, a lawyer from Washington, now mainly drives her hybrid car because of the high fuel prices – and not so much the SUV anymore.

Claudia Sarre
ARD-Studio Washington

Fuel prices at record high

The high demand has pushed up the price of oil around the world. A gallon of regular gasoline costs around $ 3.38 at the pump in Washington, which is around 95 cents per liter. A year ago the liter cost 54 cents. The prices seem low compared to Germany, but for Americans they are huge – and a daily nuisance.

“Consumers see the prices every day, even when they don’t fill up – the rising gas prices are just very visible,” confirms Bob McNally on public broadcaster. He is an energy expert with Rapidan Energy Group and was a senior adviser to the President in the White House during the administration of George W. Bush. Many Americans, he says, blame the US government for the high fuel prices. In addition, oil prices are also considered to be a reason for the rise in inflation. That’s why US President Joe Biden must do something.

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Concerted tapping of the oil reserves?

But what options does he have? On the one hand, Biden has asked the oil-exporting countries to ramp up production and export of crude oil – so far without success. “We made it clear to the OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, that the oil supply in the market must be secure,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Another option is to tap into parts of the strategic oil reserves – after all, the US is sitting on around 620 million barrels of oil. President Biden has already held talks about this – with Japan, South Korea, China and India, among others. Concerted action would depress oil prices around the world and stimulate economic growth. China and Japan have already indicated that they are ready.

Iron reserve actually only for emergencies

Critics complain, however: The tapping of the strategic oil reserves is actually only intended for emergencies – after natural disasters or wars, for example when all oil imports into the USA are stopped. The supply is not infinite: According to the “New York Times”, it would cover the US’s energy needs for around a month. In addition, experts believe that the measure would depress the price of oil only moderately, and only for a short time. “The idea is also not new,” says energy expert McNally. “That is exactly what the White House and Congress did when fuel prices went up after the First World War.”

At least one advantage would be the state access to the oil reserves. The US government could show that it is willing to do something about the high energy prices. And so it is possible that just the debate about it has a certain symbolic effect.

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