Oil Reserve:

DOE's Management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

RCED-87-171BR: Published: Jul 17, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1987.


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) management and policies regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to determine: (1) its response to management and operations improvement recommendations; (2) the seriousness of pipeline erosion and corrosion problems; (3) possible damage to SPR oil from salt-tolerant bacterial contamination; (4) decommissioning plans for the Sulphur Mines, Louisiana, oil storage site; (5) SPR oil distribution and filling plans; and (6) the adequacy of the SPR security system.

GAO found that: (1) although DOE closed all 170 recommendations, it had not implemented 6 recommendations; (2) several SPR sites have pipeline failures caused by serious erosion and corrosion, which may indicate future problems at other SPR sites; (3) although the probability of bacterial contamination damaging SPR crude oil is low, DOE is testing for possible contamination; (4) although DOE plans to decommission the Sulphur Mines site, future capacity development and oil-fill decisions could delay the decommissioning and result in the loss of funds; (5) although the distribution enhancement program provides for matched drawdown and distribution at a rate of 3.57 million barrels per day, DOE has not finalized its current plans for achieving the initially planned 4.5-million-barrel-per-day rate; (6) the SPR oil-fill rate is legislatively established at the highest practicable fill rate achievable, subject to the availability of appropriated funds; (7) the DOE-proposed capacity development and fill rate could delay completion of the 750-million-barrel reserve and limit oil purchase flexibility and the option to close the Sulphur Mines site; (8) SPR site security requires greater dependence on state and local law enforcement and military forces for assistance, since its security forces contain intruders only until outside help arrives; and (9) DOE procedures for issuing, updating, and terminating security clearances need improvement.

Jul 17, 2014

Jul 11, 2014

Jun 23, 2014

Jun 9, 2014

Jun 5, 2014

May 30, 2014

May 16, 2014

May 15, 2014

May 7, 2014

May 1, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here