House panel seeks briefing on DOE’s oil reserve

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent a letter Monday to Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOvernight Energy: Pruitt defends first-class travel | Watchdog says contractor charged Energy Department for spas, lobbying | Experts see eased EPA enforcement under Trump Obama energy secretary named to utility giant’s board Give Trump new nukes and we are that much closer to war MORE, asking him and his staff to brief them on recent developments with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The reserve was created in Texas and Louisiana during the 1970s energy crisis and can hold 727 million barrels of crude oil, which can be released or sold when needed.

Some recent decisions by the Department of Energy (DOE) in its management of the reserve have top Republican lawmakers on the committee asking for more information.

The DOE announced a test sale of reserve oil in March, the first time it has done such a sale since 1990. It planned to sell 5 million barrels of oil over a 30-day period.

“The test sale occurred against a backdrop of increased oil production nationwide, as well as continuing threats of global energy supply interruptions, the first changeover in SPR’s management and operating contractor in 20 years and an aging SPR infrastructure,” the committee leaders said.

Along with that, the DOE requested a $205 million budget for the reserve for 2015 to take care of deferred maintenance. And earlier this month, the DOE announced a gasoline reserve in the Northeast as part of the SPR program.

“Efficient and effective management of the SPR is an important component of our nation’s energy security,” lawmakers said.

The Republican committee leaders specifically asked to be briefed about the March test sale, the expected life cycle of the reserve’s infrastructure, how the DOE determines the proper fuel mix and level of the reserve and whether the DOE has the authority for a gasoline stockpile.