From the Document: "Established through enacted legislation in 1975 (P.L. 94-163), the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR, 42 U.S.C. §6231 et seq.) was created to reduce the impact of petroleum supply disruptions and to carry out obligations under the International Energy Program (IEP, a multilateral treaty--25 UST 1685--that requires signatories to maintain emergency petroleum reserves). The SPR is authorized to hold up to 1 billion barrels of petroleum products. Physical storage capacity is currently 714 million barrels of crude oil and SPR inventories were 635 million barrels as of April 17, 2020. As U.S. net petroleum imports started declining in the mid-2000s, IEP reserve volume requirements declined as well. As a result, Congress began selling SPR crude oil to pay for other legislative priorities. Since 2015, Congress has enacted seven laws that mandate the sale of 271 million barrels of SPR crude during the period of fiscal year (FY) 2017 through FY2028. Additionally, Congress has authorized SPR oil sales up to $2 billion to pay for SPR facility modernization. Steep and rapid oil price declines in early March motivated suspension of an FY2020 modernization sale. As oil market oversupply increased and prices continued declining, using the SPR to provide some degree of relief to the U.S. oil sector is one policy option that has been explored."
CRS Insight, IN11373
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/