Welders work on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve pipeline in West Hackberry, Louisianna on June 1, 1980. SPR crude, started under President Ford, has been stored in huge underground salt caverns on the Gulf of Mexico to reduce the risk of oil embargoes. This is a natural choice due to the proximity of many refineries and distribution points.
Robert Nickelsberg / Liaison Officer
The US has returned 18.3 million barrels of oil temporarily stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by energy companies that rented space there when prices collapsed last year.
Oil prices turned negative for a moment during an unprecedented period of volatility after the economy closed and demand dried up.
On April 2, 2020, the Department of Energy announced that it would offer oil companies 30 million barrels of space.
The agency later announced that it had leased land to nine companies for 23 million barrels of crude oil. The government charged them rent in oil.
When the announcement was made, oil was trading at the $ 20 a barrel, but less than three weeks later the West Texas Intermediate futures were negative by more than $ 37 a barrel.
Under the agreement, the oil should be removed by March 31st.
A Department of Energy spokesman told CNBC on Tuesday that all oil has been returned, except for 1.2 million barrels paid in rent and another 1.5 million barrels held under a lease with the Australian government were.
Australia bought the oil from a company that was participating in the storage program.
Companies that have oil in reserve include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Energietransfer, Equinor Marketing and Trading, Mercuria Energy, MVP Holdings, Vitol, Atlantic Trading, and Alon USA.
The current inventory in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is 638.1 million barrels. The Department of Energy expects the reserve to be 628.1 million barrels by the end of May after Congress sold 10 million gallons.