Oil Reserves:

An Analysis of Oil Fill Alternatives

RCED-87-145BR: Published: May 21, 1987. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed possible oil-fill-rate options for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), specifically: (1) the Department of Energy's (DOE) current construction and fill-rate policy; (2) the maximum achievable fill rate for available storage capacities under construction; and (3) a fill rate of 100,000 barrels per day.

GAO found that DOE planned to: (1) obligate $670 million in fiscal year (FY) 1987 to develop and manage SPR; (2) increase storage capacity to 581 million barrels; (3) fill the reserve at a 75,000-barrel-a-day rate; and (4) stop development of additional storage capacity through its cavern leaching program after September 1987, which would result in 47 million barrels of storage capacity available for fill in FY 1988. However, GAO also found that: (1) lower oil-fill rates would increase the time needed to fill SPR and would probably increase total oil costs; (2) if DOE limited future oil fills to 35,000 barrels per day, it would not complete a 750-million-barrel SPR until 2004; (3) continued development of cavern storage after FY 1987 would result in a 750-million-barrel inventory level earlier, but would add about $22.4 million to the FY 1988 budget and $118 million from FY 1989 through 1992; and (4) it would be generally less costly to fill SPR at the maximum rate under all assumed oil prices.

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