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U.S. begins buying back oil for strategic reserve

(Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department said on Friday it will begin buying back oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, the first purchase since this year's record 180 MM barrel release from the stockpile.

The department will buy 3 MM barrels for delivery in February, a senior official told reporters. The 180 MM sale pushed levels in the SPR to the lowest since 1984, raising concerns about energy security.

"We'll be releasing a solicitation to purchase 3 MM barrels of oil for delivery in February of next year, 2023," the official said. "This approach will lock in a price upfront when companies submit their bids."

To help relieve supply shortages at refineries after an oil spill last week shut down the Keystone crude pipeline, the Energy Department will also execute an exchange of about 2 MM barrels from the SPR, that companies will have to send back at a later date.

"We are able to do that at the same time we're doing the 3 MM barrel buyback," the official said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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