AUSTIN (KXAN) – After several attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields over the weekend, President Trump has authorized the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, America’s emergency supply of oil. This would be the fourth time the SPR has been used since its inception in 1975.
In 1973, America dealt with a massive energy crisis. Gas prices skyrocketed and cars formed lines around stations that circled the block. Arab members of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an embargo on Oil to the U.S., a response to our involvement in Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
In 1975, President Ford signed into law the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This put plans into place to establish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
What is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
Four facilities along the Gulf coast, two in Texas and two in Louisiana, form the PSR. Each is a series of caverns, 2-4 thousand feet below the surface. Combined, they can hold a maximum of 713 million barrels of crude oil.
The PSR only stores crude oil. In an emergency, the oil would need to be refined before it could be used in cars or manufacturing.
Only the President ca authorize the usage of the PSR. As of this week, this has happened four times: President H.W. Bush authorized it during Desert Storm; George W. Bush did so during Hurricane Katrina; Obama used the reserves in 2011 during unrest in Libya; and now Trump after this weekend’s attacks.
The reserves currently have 644 million barrels. American used 19.96 million barrels a day in 2017, meaning if we use the same amount today and could only rely on the reserves for our oil needs, we would have enough oil to last 32 days.