For the first time since 1990, the U.S. is selling crude oil from its strategic stockpile.
The sale will involve 5 million barrels of crude.
Some commentators have said it’s a signal to Russia from the Obama administration.
“The Energy Department said the test sale had been planned for months, timed to meet demand from refiners coming out of annual maintenance cycles. But oil traders noted that Russia’s effort to take over the Crimea region from Ukraine has prompted calls for use of booming U.S. energy resources to relieve dependence on Russian natural gas by Europe and Ukraine,” Reuters said.
The announcement caused U.S. crude prices to fall by about $2 Wednesday to around $97 a barrel.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine was in Washington Wednesday to meet with President Barack Obama.
The strategic petroleum reserve holds enough oil to cover U.S. crude oil imports for about 80 days, Reuters said.