Need To Minimize Risks of Using Salt Caverns for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

EMD-78-25: Published: Jan 9, 1978. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 1978.

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The Energy Policy and Conservation Act requires the Federal Energy Administration (FEA) to create a strategic petroleum reserve to protect against interruptions in energy and petroleum product supplies. Oil for the reserve will be stored in caverns within salt domes and in salt and limestone mines. FEA identified nine potential sites--four salt domes, three salt mines, and two limestone mines--with capacities totalling 402 million barrels. Three of the four salt domes have been acquired through condemnation.

FEA permitted the previous operators of the caverns at Bayou Choctaw and West Hackberry, Louisiana, to continue production of brine after the caverns were tested and certified as suitable for crude oil storage. In order to preclude potential problems associated with continued brining at Bayou Choctaw and West Hackberry, FEA should negotiate with the the chemical companies to eliminate brining operations. FEA officals believe that there is no need to control brine production or to retest the caverns after brining is completed since they consider cavern damage to be low risk. Two tests are necessary to determine cavern suitability--a sonar survey and a casing and cavern pressure test--which would take about 2 weeks per cavern and cost $15,000 per cavern, a total of $90,000.

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    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Department of Energy
    GAO-20-285PR: Published: Apr 22, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2020.

Apr 17, 2020

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