In a statement released by Donald Trump, the former president claimed that “after 50 years of being virtually empty, [he] built up our oil reserves during my administration … to 100% full.”
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is a government storage facility that houses barrels of crude oil for the government to sell in case of a shortage. The SPR is made up of four salt caverns across the Gulf of Mexico, and can hold up to 727 million barrels of crude oil. From 2001 to 2011, the stockpile increased steadily, but after plateauing for a few years, the number of barrels in the SPR began decreasing after Trump assumed office. On January 20, 2017—the day Trump was sworn into office—the SPR held 695.1 million barrels of crude oil. That number dropped throughout the Trump presidency, ending at 638.1 million barrels on January 15, 2021—Trump’s last full week as president.
In March 2020, Trump directed the Department of Energy to purchase 77 million barrels of crude oil to completely fill the SPR. Such a purchase, however, required congressional funding. The request was included in an early version COVID-19 relief legislation, but the $3 billion request did not make its way into the final draft of the bill that was passed into law, with Senate Democrats taking credit for its removal.