How Long Will the U.S. Oil Reserves Last?

In the Oct. 18 announcement, Biden said the administration is committed to replenishing the SPR and intends to repurchase crude oil when prices drop to or below $67 to $72 per barrel. To put that in perspective, crude oil was trading around $85 per barrel Oct. 19, 2022.

So the question remains, how long would the SPR last the United States in the case of a full drawdown? Though the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has proven to be a reliable safeguard against short-term crises, it’s hard to imagine a situation so catastrophic that the United States would simply run out of oil.

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If the president must order an emergency sale of SPR oil, it can be pumped at a maximum rate of 4.4 million barrels per day for up to 90 days. Afterward, the drawdown rate declines to 3.8 million barrels per day for another 30 days. The rate drops again for up to 180 days until the stock is depleted.

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However, if the president chooses to release it at 1 million barrels per day, the current stock (again as of Oct. 14 it was 405.1 million barrels of oil) would last for just more than a year without it being replenished or with no other sources of oil. And given the United States consumed an average of about 19.89 million barrels of petroleum per day in 2021, 1 million barrels a day probably wouldn’t go very far.

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Originally Published: Aug 29, 2012

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