The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Since the 1973 Crisis and the inability of oil companies to sustain national oil consumption, the White House launched a program ensuring that in case of oil shortage due to external factors such as embargos from oil producing nations, the US could sustain its oil consumption for a certain time before relying once again on foreign deliveries. So the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was established in several sites using four billion dollars-cost artificial sixty meters wide and six hundred meters deep salt domes which’s crude oil storage capacity ranges from six to thirty-seven million barrels. There are six storage facilities, four presently exist, one is planned and one has been shut-down. The retired one is the “Weeks Island” (Iberia Parish, Louisiana) in 1999, it had a capacity of seventy two million barrels but has been decommissioned due to structure-failing risk because of fresh water-eroding from nearby aquifer. The planned facility is in Richton (Mississippi, USA), it would have a capacity of one hundred and sixty million barrels and able to be filled with nearly the equivalent of one million barrels every day. Finally, the operational facilities are : Bayou Choctaw (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA), it actually has a capacity of seventy six million barrels and will endure extension rendering able to be filled to maximum capacity of one hundred and nine million barrels. Big Hill (Winnie, Texas, USA), it actually has a capacity of one hundred and sixty million barrels and planned extension will render it capable of being filled at maximum capacity with two hundred and fifty million barrels. Bryan Mound (Freeport, Texas, USA), it has a capacity of two hundred and fifty-four million barrels divided in twenty salt domes. West Hackberry (Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA), it has a capacity of two hundred and twenty-seven million barrels. Although these numbers look outstandingly high, according to the Department of Energy the Strategic Petroleum Reserve can support only fifty-nine days of current US oil imports and if added to the private oil companies’ inventory protection, the lifetime of petroleum reserve expands to one hundred and fifteen days. So even when it comes to national energy security, it is clear that the US Government still depends on the oil companies to help support national petroleum security programs although its objective is to render the State completely independent from any external factor, national or extra-national was it.

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