The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), held a hearing today to discuss draft legislation that seeks to modernize the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by requiring the Secretary of Energy to carry out a pilot program to lease underutilized SPR facilities.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world’s largest emergency stockpile of crude oil in the world. More than forty years ago, Congress authorized the creation of the SPR in response to the Arab Oil Embargo to mitigate the threat of an energy supply disruption. Back then, our domestic production was in decline, energy costs were rising, and we were becoming increasingly reliant on imports. … Fast forward to today – the United States is arguably more energy secure now than ever before,” said #SubEnergy Chairman Upton.
“This draft legislation offers an innovative way to accelerate reforms to the SPR, by leasing underutilized space created as the reserve is drawn down over the next decade,” said Full Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “A successful leasing program would attract investment into improving facility operations to be responsive to commercial needs. This in turn would enable more responsive use of federal oil stocks during emergencies. By preserving the existing capacity of the reserve’s caverns, the pilot program also ensures this asset will remain available for DOE’s security missions well into the future.”
- Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (Opening Statement)
- Kevin Book, Managing Director, ClearView Energy Partners, LLC (Opening Statement)
- Daniel M. Evans, Project Manager, Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Opening Statement)
- Frank Rusco, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office (Opening Statement)
#SubEnergy Chairman Upton asked Mr. Winberg whether DOE is supportive of opening up leasing storage capacity to the private sector. Mr. Winberg responded,“Yes, we are supportive.”
“[This legislation] doesn’t change the basic mission statement, it doesn’t change the authorized level of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it doesn’t change the presidential authority. What it does do is add to the mission statement. It gives the Secretary of Energy the authority, so long as it doesn’t impact the basic mission statement, the ability to lease underutilized capacity of the existing SPR to the private sector for storage and hopefully utilization of crude oil. I think that’s an important point that we’re not trying to change the basic statement that became law in the 1970’s – we’re just trying to adopt the SPR to the modern situation.” – Full Committee Vice Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX)
“What I’m concerned about is DOE has not done a good job of periodically assessing how the market has changed, how energy security issues have changed, and doing complex risk-based analysis involving scenarios of possible use. That’s what they need to do.” – Mr. Frank Rusco
“Today’s legislative draft would expand storage leasing currently available to foreign governments, so that private commercial entities could lease SPR space too. In my opinion, the pilot leasing program of this sort could potentially benefit U.S. producers and refiners in need of additional storage. If that program also helped to preserve or expand SPR capabilities at the same time it could enhance petroleum supply insurance for U.S. consumers too.” – Mr. Kevin Book
The Majority Memorandum, witness testimony, and an archived webcast are available online HERE.