WASHINGTON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy said on Thursday that it was releasing 500,000 barrels of oil from the nation's emergency crude reserve to a Phillips 66 refinery in Louisiana after Tropical Storm Harvey shut refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a series of underground caverns in Louisiana and Texas operated by the Department of Energy, holds 678.9 million barrels of crude, enough to meet total U.S. needs for 33 days. The United States also has a gasoline reserve, created after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve holds about 1 million barrels, stored in New York Harbor, Boston and Maine. The International Energy Agency's 29 member countries also store petroleum, which can be made available in case of a supply disruption. The Paris-based organization advises Western governments on energy policy. The IEA members' reserves include both crude and refined products, which can be deployed in response to an international disruption. The Gulf Coast is a major exporter of refined products to Latin America and other regions, and any serious hurricane damage to the region could have an impact on global supply. Releases from reserves can help avoid or moderate any price spikes by bolstering supply that would otherwise be interrupted. The U.S. president can call for an emergency drawdown from the SPR if the country is confronted with an economically threatening supply disruption. That was the case after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which shuttered major U.S. oil producers and refiners. The SPR can also release oil in an exchange agreement, in which it loans crude to a company, which later replaces it and supplies the reserve with premium barrels as a form of interest. The table below lists key releases from stockpiles.
Agency Release Event Details
IEA Sept. 2005 Hurricane IEA made 2 million bpd of Katrina oil available for 30 days SPR Aug. 2017 Tropical SPR loaned 500,000 barrels Storm of crude to the Phillips 66 Harvey Lake Charles refinery SPR Aug. 2012 Hurricane SPR loaned 1 million barrels Isaac of crude to Marathon
SPR Sept. 2008 Hurricanes SPR delivered 5,389,000 Gustav & barrels of crude to five Ike companies whose normal
supplies had been interrupted to the point that they could not continue to operate, refine the crude oil into products, and deliver those products to U.S. consumers
SPR June 2006 Calcasieu SPR loaned 750,000 barrels Ship of crude to refiners unable Channel to receive deliveries while closure the shipchannel was closed SPR Sept. 2005 Hurricane SPR loaned 9.8 million Katrina barrels to U.S. refiners
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)