Oil’s Other Strategic Reserve Is Running Low, Too

The inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells declined rapidly during the pandemic but has stabilized in recent months

After authorizing the largest release ever from the U.S. emergency strategic petroleum reserve, the Biden administration is signaling it will soon try to refill the stockpile. WSJ explains how this strategy can lower gas prices, and why some are skeptical that it will work. Illustration: Ali Larkin

Drill, baby, drill?

After seeing oil demand plunge in 2020, U.S. producers’ mantra switched to “frack, baby, frack” as they paused drilling new rigs in favor of completing—or fracking—wells that had already been drilled. Drilling is just the first step in shale formations. Fracking, a process that involves the injection of water, sand and chemicals into the drilled well, actually gets the oil out of the ground. 

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