This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
DOE Stops Filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
DOE announced on May 16 that it will not sign contracts this year for the addition of up to 13 million barrels of crude oil to the nation's strategic petroleum reserve (SPR). The move anticipated the "Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act of 2008," which President Bush signed on May 19. That bill suspends additions to the SPR through the end of the year, unless the price of oil drops below $75 per barrel. DOE planned to start adding 76,000 barrels per day to the SPR from August through December, increasing the SPR from its current capacity of 727 million barrels toward its eventual goal of 1 billion barrels, as set by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Congress decided to halt SPR additions in response to current high oil prices. See the press releases from DOE and the White House and the full text of the bill, House Resolution 6022.
Stopping the addition of oil to the SPR was meant to reduce demand pressures on oil, but if it has had any impact on oil prices, it was not apparent as of May 20. The price of light, sweet crude oil for July delivery settled near $129 per barrel on May 20, while the daily price of a "basket" of crude oils compiled by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, held nearly steady on May 19, at $119.24 (this includes heavier crude oils that are not well suited to the U.S. market). Meanwhile, both diesel fuel and gasoline set new retail price records on May 20, with diesel fuel reaching $4.539 per gallon and gasoline hitting $3.80 per gallon. See the latest oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange and OPEC Web sites, and for the latest retail fuel prices, see the American Automobile Association's Fuel Gauge Report.