24 December 2016, Houston — The U.S. Department of Energy expects to begin sales of roughly 8 million barrels of sweet crude from the country’s emergency oil reserve in early to mid-January, according to a notice sent to potential bidders and seen by Reuters on Friday.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil will come from the Big Hill and Bryan Mound, Texas storage sites, and West Hackberry, Louisiana facility, the notice said.
Delivery of the oil will begin on March 1 but buyers can take the oil as early as February, the notice said.
The Energy Department said earlier this month it would sell $375 million worth of crude oil, or about 8 million barrels at today’s prices, from the emergency reserve this winter after Congress passed a temporary spending bill authorising the sale. It is the first of several planned sales over the coming years that could total up to $2 billion worth of oil, intended to raise funds to modernise the reserve.
Congress would have to approve annual sales for the next three years to reach the up to $2 billion plan. It remains to be seen whether President-elect Donald Trump would urge Congress for the annual authorizations.
There are roughly 695 million barrels of oil in the reserve, a string of heavily guarded salt caverns on the Louisiana and Texas coasts. It was developed to protect the U.S. economy from oil supply disruptions following the 1973 to 1974 Arab oil embargo.
*Liz Hampton & Timothy Gardner; Editing: Chizu Nomiyama – Reuters