Murkowski: Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a Vital National Asset

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine the status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and its continued importance to our nation’s energy security.

In her opening statement, Murkowski highlighted the SPR as a vital national asset and the importance of maintaining a robust emergency reserve in case of supply disruptions and the economic shockwaves that can follow.

“You don’t give up your insurance policy when you’re healthy, and we should not give up the SPR just because we’re producing more oil right now,” Murkowski said. “The SPR is the most important strategic energy stockpile in the world and it is critical to American energy dominance.”

Murkowski discussed two ongoing threats to our national energy security – the expanding Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) “Plus” group and its efforts to benefit members by controlling prices, and the potential for ongoing tensions in the Middle East to cause global price shocks.

“The recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil processing facilities, recurring incidents involving oil tankers, and persistent concerns about the Strait of Hormuz all foreshadow a potential nightmare,” Murkowski said. “The fact that we did not need to tap SPR after the Saudi outage does not in any way discount the value of having that option.”

Keisuke Sadamori, Director for Energy Markets and Security at the International Energy Agency, predicted that without robust emergency stocks, the market would have speculated on how to cope, resulting in economically damaging price spikes.

“This dramatically underlines the important role that emergency oil stocks continue to have today, and is a reminder that while we are making great strides to transition our energy systems to cleaner and more sustainable fuel sources, oil security still matters,” Sadamori said.

Other witnesses who appeared before the committee included: Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, Administrator Linda Capuano of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Jason Bordoff of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, and Phillip Brown from the Congressional Research Service.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.

Related Issues: Energy