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Fossil Fuel Reserves

Alternative sources of fossil fuels, like shale and tar sands, may extend our use of fossil fuels, but have negative impacts.

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The Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Credit: Robert Gaskin
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24039825@N06/8508822186/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Not in buckets, but in salt domes. The United States has a petroleum reserve to help it weather any international crisis in petroleum supplies.

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Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_technician_at_the_Strategic_Petroleum_Reserve_inspects_crude_oil_transfer_pipe.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A technician examining a crude oil transfer pipe at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) [Figure2]

  • The United States Department of Energy maintains an emergency fuel supply called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
  • The SPR was created in 1973 after the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) began an oil embargo with the United States.
  • The SPR is called an important part of the energy security of the U.S.
  • Petroleum has been taken from the SPR due to events like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Arab Spring in 2011.

Show What You Know

With the link below, learn more about the strategic oil reserves. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Where is the petroleum in the SPR stored?
  2. In what type of geological formation is the petroleum stored? Why is it stored in that type of formation?
  3. How is the geological formation prepared to be a storage site for the SPR?
  4. How do engineers get soil out of the geological formation?
  5. What needs to be considered before the SPR is tapped?

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