This July marks the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s (SPR) 40th anniversary of its first oil delivery, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is observing this important milestone across the SPR’s four storage sites in Louisiana and Texas.
The SPR was created following President Ford’s signing of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in 1975, which established a U.S. emergency oil reserve. This legislation came in response to the oil embargo of 1973–1974, in which several Middle East nations restricted exports of oil to the United States, causing serious economic consequences. The government hoped that by establishing the SPR, the nation would be prepared should another oil crisis occur.
Construction of the Reserve officially began in April 1977 when the U.S. government selected several existing salt caverns along the Gulf Coast to house the first storage facilities. (Salt caverns are inexpensive, secure sites for petroleum storage.) On July 21, 1977, the SPR received its first oil delivery—approximately 412,000 barrels of Saudi Arabian light crude oil—at the West Hackberry Storage site near Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Throughout the SPR’s history, DOE’s Office of Petroleum Reserves (OPR), which oversees it, has been committed to its mission of “protecting the United States economy from severe petroleum supply interruptions through the acquisition, storage, distribution, and management of emergency petroleum stocks and to carry out U.S. obligations.”
On July 12, 2017, the SPR celebrated this continued commitment to sustaining a U.S. emergency oil supply, as well as the 40th anniversary of the first oil delivery, with planned events at each of its four sites: Bayou Choctaw and West Hackberry in Louisiana and Big Hill and Bryan Mound in Texas. SPR management was in attendance, speaking about the history of the Reserve and providing remarks about the current status of the Reserve. The four sites will host their events simultaneously via videoconference.