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WASHINGTON, DC The Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that Secretary Samuel W. Bodman has approved an emergency loan of 871,000 barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to the Total Petrochemicals USA, Inc. refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.  This loan comes in response to a barge accident in the Sabine Neches Ship Channel earlier this week, during which 94 concrete pilings dropped from the barge into the channel.  In order to ensure that this accident does not put a strain on U.S. supplies of refined products, the delivery of crude oil from the West Hackberry SPR site will begin tomorrow.

"I am approving this loan to ensure a steady supply of crude oil to the refinery.  The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a national asset that can be used in times of supply disruption.  In providing this loan, the SPR is doing exactly what it was intended to do - mitigate any supply disruption and minimize, to the extent possible, the effect any disruption would have on the American people," Secretary Bodman said.

The Sabine Neches Ship Channel has been closed to deep draft vessels since January 17, 2006, preventing the refinery from taking delivery of crude oil for processing.  The Total refinery has a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day.  Under the terms of today's agreement between DOE and Total, the loaned oil will be available on Saturday, January 21, 2006. 

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, 202/586-4940