President Joe Biden tried to deliver a Thanksgiving gift for US drivers on Tuesday, announcing the country’s largest-ever release of stored oil in a bid to drive down petrol prices.

It was a striking move for a leader who put climate change at the centre of his legislative plan, and as a candidate said the US must “transition from the oil industry”.

What was announced?

The US said it would release 50m barrels of oil from its roughly 600m-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve — an underground stockpile created in the wake of the 1970s oil crises.

The UK, India, South Korea, Japan and China also agreed to release oil stocks. Britain’s planned release is for up to 1.5m barrels. India will release 5m barrels. Volume from the others is not yet known: Energy Aspects, a consultancy, said it expected more details from China to emerge in a few days, to create distance from the US announcement.

The US sum covers about half a day of worldwide oil demand of about 100m barrels a day. About 32m barrels will be delivered between mid-December and the end of April 2022 in a swap with oil companies, which then must return an equivalent volume by 2024. The other 18m barrels accelerate sales that Congress had already authorized.