How Biden Helped a Chinese Gas Giant Boost the Communist Nation's Oil Reserves

As Biden depletes US oil reserve, China amasses huge stockpile

President Joe Biden / Getty Images
July 12, 2022

President Joe Biden's decision to deplete America's oil reserves is helping a top adversary—China, which has built up its own stockpile while taking advantage of Biden's firesale.

Biden's Department of Energy in April sold roughly one million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve barrels to Unipec, the trading arm of the China Petrochemical Corporation, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government. That decision came just two months after Unipec launched an "unusual buying spree" aimed at boosting China's own oil reserves.

The communist nation's strategy was clearly successful—from mid-March to mid-May, China increased its oil reserves from 869 million barrels to 926 million barrels, according to Bloomberg. America's oil reserves, meanwhile, are in freefall under Biden. The Democrat inherited 638 million barrels of reserve oil; that number is set to drop to 384.6 million barrels, the lowest level since 1984.

China's newfound oil reserve advantage poses a serious national security threat, Republican lawmakers told the Washington Free Beacon. As war rages on in Ukraine, China has strengthened its energy relationship with Russia—in May, for example, Beijing entered discussions with Moscow to buy discounted Russian oil to further fill its reserves. For Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), that development stresses the need to ramp up U.S. energy production "rather than begging foreign governments for more supply."

"At a time when millions of Americans are suffering financially at the gas pump, Joe Biden is helping replenish our biggest adversary's energy reserves with our own damn oil," Waltz said. "It's astonishing how clueless this administration is when it comes to trusting bad actors like China to help alleviate our economy. If we want to compete with China, we need to begin expanding production here at home by expanding federal drilling leases and building more pipelines."

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) echoed Waltz's remarks, calling the fall of American energy independence under Biden "national security suicide."

"Make no mistake: The biggest fans of Biden's radical energy policies are Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin," Sullivan told the Free Beacon. "We are in a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Russia and China. The Biden administration needs to wake up to the fact that this new era—and our need for oil and gas—will be with us for decades to come."

Neither the White House nor the Department of Energy returned requests for comment. 

It's unclear if the reserve oil Biden sold to Unipec went directly to China's own reserves, but the sale helped China grow its stockpile regardless, Power the Future founder and executive director Daniel Turner argued. Even if Unipec released the oil it purchased from the Biden administration into the global market, Turner said, the sale gave the state-controlled company additional supply that would allow China to place oil from other sources into its reserves.

"The energy market's uncertainty is a good reason for any country to stockpile oil in their strategic reserves, yet America is seemingly depleting its oil reserves to help China fill theirs," Turner told the Free Beacon. "China couldn't create a more favorable economic and national security approach to strategic oil reserves if they had created it themselves."

The Biden administration claimed its sale of 950,000 Strategic Petroleum Reserve barrels to Unipec would "address the pain Americans are feeling at the pump" and combat "Putin's price hike." In the months following the sale, however, the national average for a gallon of gas surpassed $5 for the first time ever. Unipec also ramped up its shipments of Russian oil in May, giving Putin a much-needed income source as Russia's economy slumps in the face of Western sanctions.

While the Biden administration has blamed sky-high gas prices on Russia's war, prices at the pump were increasing long before Putin invaded Ukraine. Biden railed against the oil and gas industry on the campaign trail in 2020, pledging to "end fossil fuel." He went on to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and halt new gas leases on federal land during his first month in office. Those decisions have not been well received—nearly 75 percent of Americans are not satisfied with the federal government's national energy policy, the highest level in roughly two decades, according to a January Gallup poll.