Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered the release of oil from America's emergency reserve amid fears of widespread fuel price spikes after Hurricane Harvey.

The Department of Energy confirmed it authorized the release of a half a million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Phillip's 66's refinery in Lake Charles, La.

"This decision will authorize 200,000 barrels of sweet crude oil and 300,000 barrels of sour crude oil to be drawn down from SPR's West Hackberry site and delivered via pipeline to the Phillips 66 refinery," the Energy Department said in a statement.

"The department will continue to provide assistance as deemed necessary, and will continue to review incoming requests for SPR crude oil."

The release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the first since 2012.

It comes after the average retail gas price has increased 11 cents to a $2.46 a gallon since last week.

Gasoline prices in the futures market have risen 20 percent since Friday, meaning higher prices at the pump may be still to come.

One-fifth of the nation's refining capacity is offline because of Harvey.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, located on the Gulf Coast, currently holds nearly 680 million barrels of oil. It was established 40 years ago in response to the Arab oil embargo.