Iranian Oil Cutoff:

Reduced Petroleum Supplies and Inadequate U.S. Government Response

EMD-79-97: Published: Sep 13, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1979.

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A review was made of how the Iranian oil shortfall affected U.S. oil companies and what the Department of Energy (DOE) did to monitor the situation and deal with its effects. The 19 major U.S. oil companies from which GAO obtained information account for about 75 percent of U.S. refining capacity, oil imports, and gasoline sales. The information included monthly inventory levels, gasoline production and sales figures, and refinery operating levels.

The estimated net reduction in U.S. petroleum supplies due to the Iranian situation was between 600,000 and 700,000 barrels a day during the first 4 months of 1979. The multinational oil companies' crude oil allocation procedures which caused a further loss of 200,000 barrels a day, the unusually large reduction in U.S. crude oil production, and decisions of the larger companies not to purchase crude oil on the spot market all helped to further tighten the U.S. crude oil supply. Other factors such as DOE regulations caused the companies to reduce gasoline allocations beyond the amount of their Iranian imports. The shortfall was further exacerbated by government-mandated reductions in production by several other oil-producing countries, who also took advantage of the tight supply to increase their oil prices 54 percent. The DOE lack of adequate energy planning and data has led to inconsistent and conflicting administration statements and policies on the U.S. oil shortfall. While the overall shortage contributed to companies not increasing their production, no evidence was found that the 19 companies' stocks of crude oil, gasoline, and distillates exceeded normal operating levels.

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  • energy icon, source: Art Explosion

    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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