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Does drawing down the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve help stabilize oil prices?

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  • Lutz Kilian
  • Xiaoqing Zhou

Abstract

We study the effects of releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) within the context of fully specified models of the global oil market that explicitly allow for storage demand as well as unanticipated changes in the SPR. We show that historically SPR policy interventions, defined as sequences of exogenous SPR shocks during selected periods, have helped stabilize the price of oil. Their effect on the price of oil, however, has been modest. For example, the cumulative effect of the SPR releases after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was a reduction of $2 per barrel in the real price of oil after 7 months. Whereas emergency drawdowns tend to lower the real price of oil, we find that exchanges tend to raise the real price of oil in the long run. We also provide a detailed analysis of the benefits of the 2018 White House proposal to sell off half of the SPR within the next decade. We show that the expected fiscal benefits of this plan are somewhat higher than the revenue of $16.6 billion dollars projected by the White House.

Suggested Citation

  • Lutz Kilian & Xiaoqing Zhou, 2020. "Does drawing down the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve help stabilize oil prices?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(6), pages 673-691, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:japmet:v:35:y:2020:i:6:p:673-691
    DOI: 10.1002/jae.2798
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    1. Kilian, Lutz & Lee, Thomas K., 2014. "Quantifying the speculative component in the real price of oil: The role of global oil inventories," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 71-87.
    2. Lutz Kilian, 2017. "The Impact of the Fracking Boom on Arab Oil Producers," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 6).
    3. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian, 2010. "What do we learn from the price of crude oil futures?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 539-573.
    4. Kilian, Lutz, 2019. "Measuring global real economic activity: Do recent critiques hold up to scrutiny?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 106-110.
    5. Lutz Kilian, 2016. "The Impact of the Shale Oil Revolution on U.S. Oil and Gasoline Prices," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 185-205.
    6. Lutz Kilian & Xiaoqing Zhou, 2019. "Oil prices, exchange rates, and interest rates," 2019 Meeting Papers 592, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Soren T. Anderson & Ryan Kellogg & Stephen W. Salant, 2018. "Hotelling under Pressure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(3), pages 984-1026.
    8. Renée Fry & Adrian Pagan, 2011. "Sign Restrictions in Structural Vector Autoregressions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(4), pages 938-960, December.
    9. Hilde C. Bjørnland & Frode Martin Nordvik & Maximilian Rohrer, 2021. "Supply flexibility in the shale patch: Evidence from North Dakota," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(3), pages 273-292, April.
    10. Juan F. Rubio-Ramírez & Daniel F. Waggoner & Tao Zha, 2010. "Structural Vector Autoregressions: Theory of Identification and Algorithms for Inference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 665-696.
    11. Ana María Herrera & Sandeep Kumar Rangaraju, 2020. "The effect of oil supply shocks on US economic activity: What have we learned?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(2), pages 141-159, March.
    12. Inoue, Atsushi & Kilian, Lutz, 2013. "Inference on impulse response functions in structural VAR models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 177(1), pages 1-13.
    13. Timothy J. Considine, 2006. "Is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve our Ace in the Hole?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 91-112.
    14. Haroon Mumtaz & Paolo Surico, 2009. "The Transmission of International Shocks: A Factor-Augmented VAR Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(s1), pages 71-100, February.
    15. Lutz Kilian, 2010. "Explaining Fluctuations in Gasoline Prices: A Joint Model of the Global Crude Oil Market and the U.S. Retail Gasoline Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 87-112.
    16. Richard G. Newell and Brian C. Prest, 2019. "The Unconventional Oil Supply Boom: Aggregate Price Response from Microdata," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    17. Kilian, Lutz & Zhou, Xiaoqing, 2018. "Modeling fluctuations in the global demand for commodities," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 54-78.
    18. Lutz Kilian, 2008. "The Economic Effects of Energy Price Shocks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 871-909, December.
    19. Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2012. "Why Agnostic Sign Restrictions Are Not Enough: Understanding The Dynamics Of Oil Market Var Models," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1166-1188, October.
    20. Richard G. Newell & Brian C. Prest, 2017. "Informing SPR Policy Through Oil Futures and Inventory Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 23974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-1069, June.
    22. Jonas E. Arias & Juan F. Rubio‐Ramírez & Daniel F. Waggoner, 2018. "Inference Based on Structural Vector Autoregressions Identified With Sign and Zero Restrictions: Theory and Applications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(2), pages 685-720, March.
    23. Ben Zeev, Nadav, 2018. "What can we learn about news shocks from the late 1990s and early 2000s boom-bust period?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 94-105.
    24. Xiaoqing Zhou, 2019. "Refining the Workhorse Oil Market Model," Working Papers 1910, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    25. Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Are the responses of the U.S. economy asymmetric in energy price increases and decreases?," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(3), pages 419-453, November.
    26. Kilian,Lutz & Lütkepohl,Helmut, 2018. "Structural Vector Autoregressive Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107196575, February.
    27. Brian D. Wright & Jeffrey C. Williams, 1982. "The Roles of Public and Private Storage in Managing Oil Import Disruptions," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 341-353, Autumn.
    28. Xiaoqing Zhou, 2020. "Refining the workhorse oil market model," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(1), pages 130-140, January.
    29. Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2014. "The Role Of Inventories And Speculative Trading In The Global Market For Crude Oil," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 454-478, April.
    30. Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2009. "How sensitive are consumer expenditures to retail energy prices?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 766-779, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Atsushi Inoue & Lutz Kilian, 2020. "The Role of the Prior in Estimating VAR Models with Sign Restrictions," Working Papers 2030, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Lutz Kilian, 2019. "Facts and Fiction in Oil Market Modeling," CESifo Working Paper Series 7902, CESifo.
    3. Inoue, Atsushi & Kilian, Lutz, 2020. "Joint Bayesian inference about impulse responses in VAR models," CFS Working Paper Series 650, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    4. Lutz Kilian, 2020. "Understanding the Estimation of Oil Demand and Oil Supply Elasticities," Working Papers 2027, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    5. Baumeister, Christiane & Hamilton, James D., 2020. "Drawing conclusions from structural vector autoregressions identified on the basis of sign restrictions," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    6. Raffaella Giacomini & Toru Kitagawa & Matthew Read, 2021. "Identification and Inference Under Narrative Restrictions," Papers 2102.06456, arXiv.org.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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