Manchin: We Need To Think Critically About Future Of Petroleum Reserve

October 17, 2019

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and related energy security issues. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Committee, stressed the need for the United States to think strategically about the size, configuration and purpose of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“As we stand today, the International Energy Program requires us to maintain reserves equivalent to 90 days of our net imports of crude oil and petroleum products the previous year. Right now we’re surpassing that, partially as a result of declining net imports. And, in fact, projections have indicated that the United States could become a net petroleum exporter as soon as 2020. The oil and gas industry has experienced profound upstream growth in a short amount of time. This is coupled with less rapid but still distinctive changes in consumption patterns. All of this means we have both an opportunity and a challenge before us, which requires a close look and multiple factors to take into consideration because changes will have broad societal impacts. This committee has responded to the rapid changes underway in the oil and gas and the larger energy sector before. With that at front of mind, I think we need to be purposeful, and indeed strategic, in determining the optimal size, configuration, and use of the petroleum reserve for the future,” Ranking Member Manchin said.

Ranking Member Manchin questioned witnesses about the practices in place for buying and selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

“Very importantly, who makes the decision when to buy and when to sell? It makes no sense. We buy high, sell low and take a loss. Does this go towards our national debt? Does OMB score it that way? None of this makes sense. People start asking us how we run this place. Make sense out of this so we understand the purpose behind what we do. Are we doing it in the most safe and secure way?” Ranking Member Manchin asked.

“We went back and looked and our average price of purchased oil is about 30 dollars a barrel, and clearly, in the last several Congressionally-mandated sales that we’ve had we’ve been significantly above 30 dollars a barrel,” said Steven E. Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.

The hearing also featured testimony from representatives from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs, and Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. To read their testimonies click here.

To watch the hearing in full click here.