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Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Project Number
Last Reviewed Dated

The objectives of this project are:

  • To support The Department of Energy (DOE) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in providing critical data pertaining to chemical and physical properties for crude, sludge, and brine samples obtained from SPR caverns, crude oil streams, or cargoes
  • Maintain a crude oil assay database
  • Provide SPR support in addressing petroleum technology issues or problems that arise

The level of effort under each category depends on priorities established by the SPR Head Quarters (SPRHQ).


Northrop Grumman Missions System, Bartlesville OK


The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in December 1975 by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (Public Law 94 163). This law and subsequent amendments declared it to be the policy of the United States to purchase and store up to 750 million barrels of crude oil to reduce the impact of disruptions in supply. Crude oil purchase specifications, analytical research, and quality control programs were established by SPRHQ to ensure the marketability of petroleum stored in the reserve.

The SPR has purchased a diverse mixture of crude oils for storage in salt cavities. These crude oils have been commingled in storage, depending on their quality, producing sweet (<0.5% sulfur) and sour (>0.5 – 2.0% sulfur) streams at each site. If improperly stored, conditions present could induce changes in properties of stored crude oils due to chemical, physical, or biological processes. As these changes could affect the recovery, sale, and refining of stored crude oils, stocks are periodically sampled and analyzed as part of a long-term quality surveillance and assessment program. Furthermore, detailed analytical data on the quality of SPR stocks resulting from these tests are an integral part of Notices of Sale.

Pipeline Manifold at SPR Site
Pipeline Manifold at SPR Site



Northrop Grumman and its predecessors have served as the analytical and technical support laboratory for the SPRHQ of the U.S. Dept. of Energy since 1978. The work described herein is a continuation of these support activities. The technical support provided assists the SPRHQ in fulfilling its mandated mission of maintaining a viable stockpile of crude oil. These support activities provide detailed analyses of crude oil streams, cargoes, and storage cavern composites necessary to assure that the quality of the stockpile is maintained.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

PIANO (parrafins, isoparaffins, aromatics, naphthenes, olefins) and a comprehensive crude oil assay for multiple crudes have been completed and the results obtained were consistent with what was expected. The crudes examined include Bryan Mound, Cavern 105, Forties crude oil, Olmeca Crude oil, Bayou Choctaw Sweet, Light Louisiana Sweet crude oil, Saharan crude oil, West Hackberry, West Hackberry Sweet Cavern 8, Azeri Light Crude Oil. The public assay for Big Hill Sour, Big Hill Sweet, West Hackberry Sour, and Bayou Choctaw was also updated.

Technical support provided included quality assurance testing of inspection, PIANO, and comprehensive assay composite samples. Multiple full crude oil assays were added to the SPR.

The relocation of SPR crude oil samples to the new long-term storage facility has been completed.

Current Status

The project has been completed. The option for year two was not granted.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

Base Year – 12 months, DOE Contribution: $1,147,094
Option Year 1 – 12 months, DOE Contribution: $1,182,494
Final Project Total Funding: $2,329,588

Contact Information

NETL – William Fincham ( or 304-285-4268)
Northrop Grumman – Arden Strycker ( or 918-338-4457)
SPR – Kim L. West ( or 202-586-4398)