(Bloomberg) -- China would be barred from buying oil from the US’s emergency stockpiles under a provision included in must-pass government funding legislation unveiled Sunday.

Republican critics have sought to bar the sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China, after nearly 1 million barrels released from the oil reserve in 2022 were sold to Unipec America Inc., a Houston-based subsidiary of China-owned Sinopec Corp.  

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The White House has said the Energy Department is required by law to sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a competitive auction to the highest bidder, regardless of whether the bidder is a foreign company. The Trump administration sold oil to PetroChina International, a subsidiary of Chinese state oil company PetroChina Co., in 2017. 

“Scant prior SPR sales” to Chinese entities would mute the provision’s impact, ClearView Energy Partners wrote in a note to clients Monday. It noted that the measure would expire at the end of fiscal year 2024 unless renewed by Congress.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, created in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, currently stands at 360 million barrels, close to a 40-year-low, following the Biden administration’s historic release of 180 million barrels in 2022 to tame high oil gas prices in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The administration has been slowly trying to refill it — purchasing some 23 million barrels since last year. 

The language in the government-funding legislation is similar to a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House last year barring the sale of Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil to China that was never taken up in the Senate. Congress aims to pass the bill before a Friday partial shutdown deadline. 

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

(Updates with analyst’s note in fourth paragraph.)

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