U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve Quick Facts

The American Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a U.S. Government complex of four sites with deep underground storage caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts.  The SPR is back in focus after the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower oil prices.

SPR Storage Sites

There are four SPR sites in the United States of America

 Crude Oil Storage by Site  (as of August 30, 2021)

  • Bryan Mound – holds 224.1 MMB in 20 caverns – 66.6 MMB sweet and 157.5 MMB sour.
  • Big Hill – holds 139.4 MMB in 14 caverns – 65 MMB sweet and 74.4 MMB sour.
  • West Hackberry – holds 185.7 MMB in 22 caverns – 102.2 MMB sweet and 83.5 MMB sour.
  • Bayou Choctaw – holds 71 MMB in 5 caverns – 18.9 MMB sweet and 52.1 MMB sour.

Current authorized storage capacity is 714 million barrels

The highest the SPR has ever been was 726.6 million barrel it’s then authorized storage capacity on December 27, 2009; the inventory of 726.6 million barrels was the highest ever held in the SPR.

Current SPR Inventory

US SPR Nov 19, 2021

 Crude Oil Storage by Site  (as of August 30, 2021)

  • Bryan Mound – holds 224.1 MMB in 20 caverns – 66.6 MMB sweet and 157.5 MMB sour.
  • Big Hill – holds 139.4 MMB in 14 caverns – 65 MMB sweet and 74.4 MMB sour.
  • West Hackberry – holds 185.7 MMB in 22 caverns – 102.2 MMB sweet and 83.5 MMB sour.
  • Bayou Choctaw – holds 71 MMB in 5 caverns – 18.9 MMB sweet and 52.1 MMB sour.
SPR Sites and Refining Centers

SPR Inventory Milestones

  • 2008.  Prior to Hurricane Gustav coming ashore on September 1, 2008, the SPR had reached 707.21 million barrels, the highest level ever held up until that date.  A series of emergency exchanges conducted after Hurricane Gustav, followed shortly thereafter by Hurricane Ike, reduced the level by 5.4 million barrels.
  • 2005.  Prior to the 2008 hurricane releases, the former record had been reached in late August 2005, just days before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.  Hurricane Katrina emergency releases of both crude oil sales and exchanges (loans) totaled 20.8 million barrels.
  • 1977.  First oil was delivered to the newly constructed SPR, 412,000 barrels of light sweet crude. 

Current days of import protection in SPR – At the end of CY 2019 (as of December 31, 2019), the SPR’s crude oil inventory was 634.9 MMbbl.  This is equivalent to approximately 1,069 days of supply of total U.S. petroleum net imports.

International Energy Agency requirement – 90 days of import protection (both public and private stocks).  In past years, the United States has met its  commitment with a combination of SPR stocks and industry stocks.  The days of import protection may vary based on actual net U.S. petroleum imports and the inventory level of the SPR. 

Average price paid for oil in the Reserve – $29.70 per barrel

Investment to date – About $25.7 billion ($5 billion for facilities; $20.7 billion for crude oil).

Drawdown Capability

  • Maximum nominal drawdown capability – 4.4 million barrels per day
  • Time for oil to enter U.S. market – 13 days from Presidential decision

Past Sales

  • FY 2020 Mandated Sales: 9.85 million barrels
  • FY 2019 SPR Modernization Sale: 4.2 million barrels
  • FY 2019 Mandated Sales: 10.87 million barrels
  • FY 2018 SPR Modernization Sale: 4.74 million barrels
  • FY 2018 Mandated Sales: 14.17 million barrels
  • FY 2017 Mandated Sales: 10 million barrels
  • FY 2017 SPR Modernization Sale: 6.28 million barrels
  • 2014 – March: Test Sale – 5 million barrels
  • 2011 June: IEA Coordinated Release – 30,640,000 barrels  
  • 2005 September: Hurricane Katrina Sale – 11 million barrels
  • 1996-97 October; January; April:  Total non-emergency sales – 28 million barrels
  • 1990/91 September, January: Desert Shield/Storm Sale – 21 million barrels
    (4 million in August 1990 test sale; 17 million in January 1991 Presidentially-ordered drawdown)
  • 1985 – November: Test Sale – 1.0 million barrels 

Source: Department of Energy

From The TradersCommunity US Research Desk