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What Lies Beneath
Photograph by Sarah Leen

The wellhead is just the tip of the iceberg at an oil storage cavern in Bryan Mound, Texas, where an employee of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) does routine monitoring. Beneath the wellhead is an underground salt cavern the size of the Empire State Building. The SPR, the largest such reserve in the world, began operations in 1977 as an emergency crude oil storage site, ready to be drawn on should a disruption in commercial oil supplies pose a threat to the U.S. economy. Located at four sites in Texas and Louisiana, the reserve can hold up to 700 million barrels of crude oil. Should the need arise, a maximum of 4.3 million barrels of oil a day can be tapped from the reserve for 90 days. And delivery is swift. Once the President gives the go-ahead, oil can be on the U.S. market in 13 days.





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