Trump claims he made a $75 million oil purchase that never happened: fact check

MSN  07th Jun 2023

Former President Donald Trump boasted at a Fox event in Iowa last week about a massive purchase of oil he made during his presidency, as a contrast to President Joe Biden's energy policy.

“We had so much oil we didn’t know what to do with it. We bought a lot of it for very little for the strategic national reserves,” said Trump. “Think of it: 75 million barrels, and I bought it for peanuts, and Congress – I had to fight Congress, and the pricing was so crazy and so good.”

There's just one problem, according to CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale: Trump didn't buy 75 million barrels of oil.

"Trump did propose to buy 77 million barrels for the reserve in 2020 as oil prices cratered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Democratic-controlled Congress rejected the $3 billion in funding that would have paid for the purchase, describing it as a subsidy to big oil companies," reported Dale.

"Various Republicans have since criticized the Democrats for blocking Trump’s proposal, arguing that they caused the country to miss a golden opportunity to fill the reserve while prices were unusually low. That’s fair game. But Trump boasted on Fox that he overcame the congressional opposition and did buy tens of millions of barrels at those prices. That’s not true."

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve declined under Biden, as the administration sold off barrels to ease global energy price shocks that drove up the price of gasoline sharply last summer. However, it also declined under Trump, from 696 million barrels to 638 million. The only purchase made for the reserve under the Trump administration was a restocking of 124,000 barrels in 2020.

Trump also claimed at the same event that the SPR is now "close to empty" under Biden, but that is false as well — just over 355 million barrels remain, which is a 40-year low but still more than half of what it was when Trump left office. And he claimed that Biden misused the reserve because it is just "meant for times of war." Not only is that not true — SPR is used for peacetime emergencies as well — but the Russian invasion of Ukraine was indeed a factor in the decision to release reserves.

The Biden administration is currently working to replenish the SPR, with a purchase of 3 million barrels last month.