Lessons Learned From the 2011 Strategic Petroleum Reserve Release

September 10, 2012


More on:

Fossil Fuels

Energy and Climate Policy

United States


In this Working Paper, Blake Clayton analyzes the 2011 International Energy Agency (IEA)–coordinated release of strategic petroleum reserves to shed light on the political underpinnings and market consequences of tapping these national oil stockpiles. He combines participant interviews with independent analysis to assess lessons for physical and financial markets, U.S. strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) operations, and international diplomacy. Clayton recommends that energy officials in IEA countries bear in mind market-imposed constraints when structuring future releases, tailor their cooperation with influential oil-producing and -consuming countries to evolving geopolitical realities, and address potential operational impediments to the U.S. SPR, informed by the experience of the 2011 release. Heeding these lessons, he argues, will pay dividends when the inevitable need to tap emergency oil stockpiles returns.