DOE completes SPR upgrades


WASHINGTON, DC�The US Department of Energy has completed a 7-year, $328-million refurbishment to extend the life of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 25 years. DOE began to upgrade the four SPR sites in 1993. It said the modernization was completed ahead of schedule and nearly $42 million below its original cost estimate.


WASHINGTON, DC�The US Department of Energy has completed a 7-year, $328-million refurbishment to extend the life of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 25 years. DOE began to upgrade the four SPR sites in 1993. It said the modernization was completed ahead of schedule and nearly $42 million below its original cost estimate.

Energy Sec. Bill Richardson said, "We have upgraded pumps, streamlined oil handling equipment, and automated many of the control systems. The SPR is now ready to continue as this country's first line of defense against oil disruptions for at least the next quarter century."

The SPR was established in 1975 following the US's first major oil crisis. Built as a complex of deep oil storage caverns along the Gulf Coast, it had an initial design life of 20 years.

DOE said the upgrading will lower SPR operating costs $12-15 million/year, primarily because less equipment and personnel will be needed to maintain and operate the sites.

It said, "Engineers were able to reduce the number of pumps needed to move crude oil by almost 40%, eliminating 60 large, high-horsepower pumping units. More than 900 of the reserve's 1,800 valves were also eliminated. Many other components have been standardized and automated, making maintenance and inventory control more efficient and lower-cost."

DOE said the project involved six construction firms and 20 equipment suppliers. The SPR office in New Orleans and the SPR operating contractor, DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations, oversaw the effort. Walk-Haydel and Associates, New Orleans, performed engineering design work.

The SPR contains nearly 570 million bbl of oil in caverns with capacity for 700 million bbl.

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