Energy Policy:

Ranking Options to Improve the Readiness of and Expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

RCED-94-259: Published: Aug 18, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 1994.

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GAO reviewed readiness and expansion options for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), focusing on: (1) eliminating problems related to the buildup of geothermal heat and gas in some crude oil in SPR; (2) replacing existing facilities and systems to extend the useful life of the reserve; (3) filling SPR to the current 750-million-barrel capacity or expanding and filling SPR to 1 billion barrels; and (4) increasing the daily drawdown rate from 4.5 million to 6 million barrels for the current SPR size, as well as for a 1-billion-barrel reserve.

GAO found that: (1) correcting the problems of heat and gas buildup should be a high priority, since heat and gas significantly impair SPR drawdown capability; (2) replacing aging facilities and equipment could avert future losses in SPR capability; (3) filling SPR to its current capacity or expanding SPR capacity would be costly; and (4) increasing the SPR daily drawdown capability could increase the nation's ability to replace disrupted crude oil supplies and dampen oil price increases and their impact on the economy.

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