The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) – part one:

Published October 15th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A. How Oil is Stored in the Strategic Reserve?  

Early in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve program, underground storage in salt domes was chosen as the most cost-effective method of petroleum storage. 

 

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve has created or acquired 62 storage caverns. The caverns were created through a technique called "solution mining." Solution mining begins with a well drilled into the salt dome. Fresh water is pumped into the salt formation to dissolve the salt. As the salt dissolves, the brine created is pumped from the cavern into deep disposal wells or into the Gulf of Mexico. 

 

As more fresh water is injected, the cavern grows in size. By regulating the flow of fresh water at different depths, the cavern shape and size can be controlled. It typically takes 7 barrels of water to create space to hold 1 barrel of crude oil. 

 

A typical Strategic Petroleum Reserve cavern holds 10 million barrels of crude oil and has a diameter of 200 feet and a height of 2,000 feet. This size cavern is large enough to hold the New York World Trade Center.  

 

The roofs of most of these caverns are more than 2,000 feet below the surface. At these depths, the surrounding salt is under such pressure that any cracks that may occur will close almost instantly. This "self-healing" phenomenon makes the deep salt caverns very geologically stable. 

 

To store crude oil, oil is pumped into the cavern at the top which causes a displacement of the brine from the bottom. The brine flows through pipes to the surface where it is disposed of. 

 

To withdraw crude oil, fresh water is pumped into the cavern at the bottom which causes a displacement of the crude oil to the surface. 

 

B. Storage Sites: 

1. Bayou Choctaw (Louisiana ): 

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Bayou Choctaw storage facility is located in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, approximately 12 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, in the Atchafalaya Basin. The storage facility occupies 356 acres over the Bayou Choctaw salt dome. 

 

The Bayou Choctaw salt dome was selected as a storage site early in the SPR program due to its existing brine caverns which could be readily converted to oil storage and its proximity to the origin of the Capline Interstate Pipeline System. Development of the site was initiated in 1977 and completed in 1991.  

 

The site has 6 underground solution-mined storage caverns which have a combined storage capacity of 76 million barrels. The site is designed for fill at 110,000 barrels per day (limited by brine disposal capacity) and for draw-down and distribution at 515,000 barrels per day Sour and 300,000 barrels per day Sweet. 

 

The Bayou Choctaw site is connected to DOE's Marine Terminal currently leased to Equilon (Sugarland Terminal) (and the Capline Interstate Pipeline Terminal) on the Mississippi River at St. James, Louisiana, via a about 60-km/37-mile, 36-inch pipeline. This pipeline provides the capability to receive crude oil via tanker from either Equilon's Sugarland Terminal, the Koch St. James Terminal, or the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP).  

 

Under a draw-down of the storage site, DOE can, through Equilon's Sugarland Terminal, distribute crude oil via marine tanker or via pipeline to the adjacent LOCAP and Capline Interstate Pipeline terminals for delivery to local refiners and the large concentration of refiners located in the Midwest, respectively. 

 

The SPR's storage facility is co-located on the Bayou Choctaw salt dome with Union Texas Petroleum which utilizes underground salt caverns for brine production and storage of petrochemicals. 

Bayou Choctaw Facts 

Storage Capacity: 

76 Million Barrels  

Crude Oil Type Stored: 

Sweet 

Sour  

Commercial Access to Crude Oil: 

Interstate/Local Pipelines 

Tanker docks 

Storage system: 6 solution mined caverns 

Development: 1977-1991 

Fill rate: 110,000 barrels per day 

Drawdown rate: 515,000 barrels per day Sour, 300,000 barrels per day Sweet 

Brine Disposal: Brine Disposal Wells 

Fill Terminal:  

Sugarland Terminal, St. James, LA 

Koch Terminal, LA LOOP 

Distribution Facility: Sugarland Terminal, St. James , LA 

LOCAP Terminal, LA 

Placid Refinery, Baton Rouge 

Capline Terminal, LA 

Interstate Pipeline 

Distribution: Capline 40" to Midwest 

 

2. West Hackberry 

 

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) West Hackberry storage facility is located in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, approximately 22 miles southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The storage facility occupies 565 acres over the West Hackberry salt dome. 

 

The West Hackberry salt dome was selected as a storage site early in the SPR program due to its existing brine caverns which could be readily converted to oil storage and its proximity to the origin of the Texoma Interstate Pipeline System, now converted to gas transmission. Development of the site was initiated in 1977 and completed in 1988.  

 

 

The site has 22 underground solutionmined storage caverns which have a combined storage capacity of 222 million barrels. The site has demonstrated the capability to drawdown and deliver crude at 1,300,000 barrels per day. 

 

The West Hackberry site is connected via a about 69-km / 43-mile, 42-inch pipeline to the Sun Marine Terminal at Nederland, Texas, and via a about 23-km / 14-mile, 36-inch pipeline to the Texaco 22-inch Pipeline System at Lake Charles, Louisiana.  

 

These pipelines provide the capability to receive and distribute crude oil via tanker from marine docks in Nederland, Texas, and to distribute crude via pipeline to refiners in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area, the Lake Charles area, and the midcontinent refining region. 

 

In 1995, Sun Terminal became the origin of Mobil's Interstate Pipeline System between Nederland, Texas and Patoka, Illinois. This pipeline provides the West Hackberry site with added pipeline distribution capabilities to the midcontinent and midwest refining regions, similar to that originally provided by the Texoma System.  

 

West Hackberry Facts: 

Storage Capacity: 

222 Million Barrels  

Crude Oil Type Stored: 

Sweet 

Sour  

Commercial Access to Crude Oil: 

Interstate/Local Pipelines 

Tanker docks 

Barge docks 

Storage system: 22 solution mined caverns 

Development: 1977-1988 

Fill rate: 225,000 barrels per day 

Drawdown rate: 1.3 million barrels per day 

Brine Disposal: brine disposal wells 

Fill Terminal: Sun Terminal, Nederland, TX LOOP 

 

Distribution Facility: Sun Terminal, Nederland, TX 

Texaco 20"/22" Connection 

Lake Charles, LA 

Interstate Pipeline Distribution:  

Sun/Midvalley 20" to Midwest 

Texaco 16" to Midcontinent 

Mobil 20" to Midwest 

Source: United States Energy Information Administration. 

 

© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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