Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Observations on the Emergency Stockpile

Over 4 decades ago, Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)—the world’s largest government-owned stockpile of emergency crude oil—to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products. Since 2015, Congress has also mandated sales of SPR oil to fund the modernization of SPR facilities and other national priorities. The Department of Energy (DOE) manages the SPR, whose storage and related infrastructure is aging, and has plans to modernize its facilities. As a member of the International Energy Agency, the United States is obligated to maintain reserves equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year’s net imports (imports minus exports). As of March 2018, the SPR held about 665 million barrels of crude oil, about 138 days of net imports. This testimony by Frank Rusco, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, highlights the U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO’s) May 2018 report on the SPR, including the extent to which (1) DOE has identified the optimal size of the SPR, and (2) DOE’s plans for modernizing the SPR take into account the effects of congressionally mandated crude oil sales. GAO reviewed DOE’s documents and studies and interviewed agency officials. GAO made four recommendations, including that DOE (1) supplement the 2016 review by conducting an additional analysis, (2) ensure it periodically reexamines the SPR, and (3) consider a full range of options for handling potentially excess assets. DOE partially agreed with the first recommendation and agreed with the other two recommendations.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 16p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01675981
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-18-675T
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 24 2018 12:24PM