Crews Working to Restore Power at Strategic Petroleum Reserve Site in La.

Tropical Weather Louisiana Energy
File photo provided to the Associated Press

WEST HACKBERRY, La. – The U.S. Department of Energy said crews are still working to restore power and repair other damage at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s West Hackberry site, which was battered with heavy winds and rain by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27. The Essential operations on site are now being powered by a backup generator. Commercial power is estimated to be restored in the next two weeks.

On Sept. 9, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg visited the SPR site to receive an in-person briefing and status report on the significant damage.

Based on SPR engineers’ initial assessment, the site’s support infrastructure – including perimeter fencing, building structures, and cable trays used to connect the site’s various components to the central control room – had the most extensive damage. The site’s mission-related infrastructure (pumps, pipes, valves, tanks and caverns) is intact and in a safe idle condition. 

The Department of Energy’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is comprised of four crude oil storage sites. There are two in Texas and two in Louisiana. While the West Hackberry site in Louisiana sustained significant damage caused by Hurricane Laura, the DOE said the SPR system remains ready to “execute its mission, oil drawdown, and fill operations, from its remaining three sites.”

The Department of Energy says the SPR is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil. It was created to “reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products and to carry out obligations of the United States under the international energy program. The federally-owned oil stocks are stored in huge underground salt caverns at four sites along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The sheer size of the SPR (authorized storage capacity of 714 million barrels) makes it a significant deterrent to oil import cutoffs and a key tool in foreign policy.”

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