The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve Only Has A 20-Day Supply For The Country – OpEd

In 1973, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an oil embargo against the United States, triggering a crude oil crisis that sent the U.S. economy into a recession. To mitigate from any future shortages of oil, President Gerald Ford signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The SPR is centrally located along the Gulf Coast where the oil can be distributed to nearly half of all U.S. oil refineries using interstate pipelines or barges. 

Interestingly, California, the 4th largest economy in the world, has no access to the SPR as there are no pipelines over the Sierra Mountains to reach the “California Energy Island”.

A few years after the SPR was authorized, in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis in 1977, the Department of Energy was established to lessenour dependence on foreign oil. 

Today, California, the 4th largest economy in the world, California is importing almost 60 percent of its crude oil demands from foreign countries, to support the States’ 9 International airports, 41 Military airports, and 3 of the largest shipping ports in America!

Now, after 50 years, the Department of Energy (DOE) is comprised of approximately 14,000 federal employees and over 95,000 management and operating contractors, and 83 field locations, and a $48 billion dollar budget, the United States remains a net crude oil importer. Although exports increased in the first half of 2023, the United States demands have also been increasing, resulting in imports exceeding exports, meaning the U.S. remains a net crude oil importer.

The United States, as a net crude oil importer, continues to rely on foreign countries to run the 118 international airports in the United States and the 500 Military airports in the United States.

50 years after the oil embargo crisis of 1973, there remain no American policy for crude oil independence. America continues to INCREASE its dependence on China for “green” minerals and metals, and on OPEC, Russia, and other countries for oil. Today, with LESS independence, America is more vulnerable to another embargo than we were 50 years ago!

Over the same period, California Governors have been continually decreasing California’s in-state oil production. The emissions policies of past and current Governors continue to force California, the 4th largest economy in the world, to be the only state in contiguous America that imports most of its crude oil feedstock to in-state refineries from foreign countries. The States Governor leaders over the decades have been:

  • Gov. Gavin Newson (D) 2019 – 2027
  • Gov. Edmund Brown (D) 2011-2019, and 1975-1983
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) 2003-2011
  • Gov. Gray David (D) 1999-2003
  • Gov. Pete Wilson (R) 1991-1999

California’s growing dependency on other nations over the last several decades, some not particularly friendly to America, is a serious national security risk for all of us. It also deprives Californians of jobs and business opportunities and forces drivers to pay premium prices for the fuels and products manufactured at the decreasing number of in-state refineries.

In the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, the Department of Energy was established 46 years ago in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Today, with 14,000 employees and a $48 billion dollar budget, California, the 4th largest economy in the world, imports most of its crude oil demands from foreign countries to run the States’ 9 International airports, 41 Military airports, and 3 of the largest shipping ports in America!!

U.S. President Joe Bidens’ Administration has chosen to delete/sell off, much of the SPR inventory, which is currently less than half its capacity, resulting in an emergency reserve of just 20 days of supply remaining to deliver to U.S. based refineries.

The SPR was created almost 50 years ago, because of the OPEC crude oil reductions in availability in the early 70’s.  Since Biden has no plan to restore this emergency oil reserve supply, if OPEC, or other countries cuts back oil availability substantially again as they did back in the early-mid 70’s, those of us who experienced the motor fuel shortages back then, can expect to reexperience the very long fueling station vehicle lines, and other product shortages we experienced 50 years ago.

The USA consumes about 19 million barrels of oil per day, while the United States and California are pursuing the elimination of crude oil production to focus on wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity, China has no intentions of abandoning its economic, military, or strategic ambitions—all of which rely on non-renewables such as crude oil and coal. Asia is the region with the greatest number of future petroleum refineries. As of 2021, there were 88 new refinery facilities in planning or under construction in Asia.

The Energy News Beat Podcast Hosted by Stu Turley had an educational and entertaining conversation about energy security. Specifically, California which has become an energy liability to the United States’ energy security. Please enjoy the 37-minute conversation between Stu and Ron at:

Americans have obviously have not learned much in the 50 years since the Oil Embargo of 1973, as the following persist:

  • California, the 4th largest economy in the world, was virtually independent of foreign oil in 1973, but now imports MOST of its crude oil demands to run the States’ 9 International airports, 41 Military airports, and 3 of the largest shipping ports in America, AND
  • The USA remains a net importer of foreign crude oil, AND
  • The possibility of importing manufactured fuels and petrochemicals from new Asian refineries in the coming years to support the American economy may soon become a reality.

In the meantime, under the watch of the Department of Energy that was established in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, with a $48 billion dollar budget in 2023, 14,000 federal employees and over 95,000 management and operating contractors, they have “allowed” California, the 4th largest economy in the world, to increase its dependency on foreign crude oil from 5 to almost 60 percent!