Energy News Today

U.S. Oil Reserve Created for Supply Disruptions, Not Strictly Military Use

Quick Take

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was set up as an emergency source of oil to keep supplies flowing in the event of unexpected disruptions. It’s not just designed “for when we get attacked and need the fuel to keep our Air Force in the air,” as social media posts falsely claim.


Full Story

President Joe Biden announced on Nov. 23 that the Department of Energy would release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, “to lower prices for Americans and address the mismatch between demand exiting the pandemic and supply.” 

Responding to Biden’s action, conservative commentator Jesse Kelly falsely claimed in a tweet that same day that the SPR was intended strictly for military purposes, not to meet market demand.

“PRO TIP: The strategic oil reserve is for when we get attacked and need the fuel to keep our Air Force in the air,” the tweet, which was shared widely on Facebook, read. “It’s so your cities and towns don’t get bombed into powder. With you and your family in them. It’s not for when you get some bad poll numbers about high gas prices.”

Though the reserve was established with national security in mind, it wasn’t envisioned for use only in the event of war. Under consideration since the 1940s, the SPR was established in response to energy shortages created by the 1973-74 oil embargo. Then-President Gerald Ford signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, or EPCA, in 1975, which declared U.S. policy to build a reserve of up to one billion barrels of petroleum. 

The oil in the reserve — currently about 600 million gallons — is housed in four salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana.

Reducing the Burden on Consumers

The president may authorize a drawdown from the reserve in response to a “severe energy supply interruption,” the EPCA states. The “interruption” may be a supply shortage which the president determines is “of significant scope and duration, and of an emergency nature; may cause major adverse impact on national safety or the national economy; and results, or is likely to result, from an interruption in the supply of imported petroleum products, or from sabotage or an act of God.”

Since 1975, the reserve has been tapped by both Republican and Democratic administrations to alleviate potential shortages from unexpected disasters, such as hurricanes. In 2000, the Clinton administration authorized the release of 30 million barrels in response to a rise in home heating oil prices.

The Department of Energy, which maintains the reserve, posts information about previous sales and releases on its website.

The Biden administration’s announcement that it would release 50 million barrels from the reserve was made in tandem with similar announcements from India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. China also authorized the release of additional oil into the market.

The International Energy Agency noted the announcement, saying, “We recognize that…

Read More: U.S. Oil Reserve Created for Supply Disruptions, Not Strictly Military Use

2021-12-03 17:11:40

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