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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


The federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve had 347 million barrels of crude oil as of July 2023, according to the latest monthly U.S. Energy Information Administration figures.

The last time the reserve was in that range was in July 1983, at 341 million barrels.

Four sites with deep underground storage caverns along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts constitute the reserve. Its capacity is 714 million barrels.

The reserve generally grew, peaking around 2010 at more than 700 million barrels. It began dropping markedly in mid-2020. Democrats blocked a $3 billion Trump administration proposal to add 77 million barrels.

The Biden administration sold oil from the reserve partly to stabilize gasoline prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Republican U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, who represents part of eastern Wisconsin north of Madison and Milwaukee, decried the decline in an Oct. 26 tweet that alluded to conflicts in the Middle East.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


U.S. Energy Information Administration: U.S. Ending Stocks of Crude Oil in SPR

U.S. Department of Energy: SPR Quick Facts

Rep. Grothman: By depleting the U.S. energy reserve to its lowest levels since the 1980s, @POTUS put politics over our national security. As conflict spreads throughout the Middle East, America must prioritize domestic energy production and refilling the SPR.

Reuters: US seeks to buy 6 million barrels for oil reserve by January

CNBC: US suspends plans to buy oil after funding is left out of $2 trillion stimulus package

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.