"Later today President Bush will announce his plan to double our nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels. I believe that expanding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a wise and prudent policy decision that will provide an additional layer of protection for our nation's energy security.
"Originally established in 1975 in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a national asset that can be used in the case of severe supply disruption. During my tenure alone, we've used it a number of times, most notably in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - a time when the nation's commercial oil drilling infrastructure was decimated - to ensure adequate supplies of fuel to citizens around the country.
"The current Strategic Petroleum Reserves holds about 691 million barrels of crude oil, which is the approximate equivalent of 55 days of net imports. By expanding our Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels, we will have an approximately 97 day supply of net import protection.
"Adding to the current Reserve will happen in stages over the next two decades to coincide with the construction and expansion of our facilities. Our goal is to have the expansion completed by 2027.
"While filling the Reserve is critically important to our nation's energy security, I want to assure the American public that we will acquire crude oil in a manner that does not adversely affect the market or raise gasoline prices. We will fill the Reserve in a deliberate, predictable, and transparent manner, consistent with our updated guidelines that were announced in November 2006.
"To that end, and assuming similar market conditions, I would expect the Department to begin purchasing crude oil in the Spring at a rate of about 100,000 barrels per day. After a few months, we will reassess the market before continuing the fill using royalty in kind payments through the end of the year. In 2008 and beyond, as we work our way to 1.5 billion barrels, the Department will determine future fill rates based on information and market conditions available at that time."
Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940