U.S. says capacity issues hindering Strategic Petroleum Reserve

WASHINGTON, July 15 Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:45am EDT

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WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is dogged by capacity and maintenance issues that limit officials' ability to replenish it, the Energy Department's inspector general said in a report released on Tuesday.

Officials were not able to tap the reserves as easily as expected to fulfill recent sales, and restoring the fuel to previous levels has been hindered by other problems, the inspector general said.

"Our analysis indicates that the Reserve would be unable to replace the more than 35 million barrels of oil sold since 2011, without compromising capacity maintenance activities," according to the report. The current amount of oil in the SPR is about 690 million barrels, it said.

Also, the reserve was not able to reach its maximum 90-day sustained drawdown rate of 4.415 million barrels per day, falling approximately 165,000 barrels per day short in March, the report said. (Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Susan Heavey)

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