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Special Report: IG-0767

June 19, 2007 

Expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the Department of Energy to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's (Reserve) maximum storage capacity to 1 billion barrels of crude oil. The Department stores the oil in large underground caverns, which have been created in salt domes. After evaluating various alternatives, the Department decided to develop a new 160 million barrel storage facility at Richton, Mississippi, and to expand the storage capacity at two existing Reserve facilities. As part of the evaluation, the Department eliminated a salt dome in Bruinsburg, Mississippi, from consideration as a potential expansion site. According to Department officials, the Bruinsburg site was not selected because (1) the salt dome was too small to meet storage needs, and (2) the site presented significant technical risks since thc Department would have to use deep injection wells to dispose of nearly 1.2 million barrels per day of brine used to excavate the caverns.