(Bloomberg) -- US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said it will be “difficult” this year to refill government oil reserves, even as crude prices hovered within the agency’s target buy-back range. 

Granholm, in testimony before a House panel, said maintenance at two Strategic Petroleum Reserve sites as well as an ongoing 26 million-barrel crude sale mandated by Congress make refilling a challenge. 

“This year it will be difficult for us to take advantage of this low price,” Granholm said. “But we will continue to look for that low price into the future because we intend to save the tax payer dollars.” 

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, designed to protect the country from supply disruptions, has fallen to the lowest level since the 1980s after the Biden administration authorized an historic 180 million-barrel drawdown to tame gasoline prices in the wake of the war in Ukraine. 

Read more: Top Biden Adviser Says US Won’t Rush to Fill Petroleum Reserve

Tumbling crude prices have revived expectations that the US will try to replenish the emergency reserves, but the Energy Department has said it can’t refill the reserve at the same time it’s distributing oil from the stockpile.

“These sales that we are doing this year will take this year,” Granholm said in her testimony before a House Appropriations Committee panel said, adding it will take “a few years” to refill the reserve. 

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