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December 8, 2006




$1 billion and 1,000 jobs in construction of facility in south Mississippi

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Governor Haley Barbour, U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, Sen. Thad Cochran, and Sen. Trent Lott announced Thursday that the Department of Energy has named salt domes in Richton, Mississippi, as the top choice of a new $1 billion to $1.5 billion strategic petroleum reserve facility.


The facility is projected to hold 160 million barrels of crude oil with pipelines running from Pascagoula to Richton and Richton to Liberty. The construction and implementation of the project is slated at 1,000 jobs.


“I am delighted with this decision by Secretary Bodman and the Department of Energy. It would be an enormous economic boost for south Mississippi and would propel our state into the forefront in protecting and preserving vital national energy resources,” Governor Barbour said.


“This new strategic petroleum reserve site and the supporting infrastructure in Mississippi will bring construction jobs and energy investment into our south Mississippi communities,” said Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., who currently serves as co-chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The strategic petroleum reserve is critical for our nation’s energy security and our growing economy. Abundant, affordable energy is the lifeblood of our economy and we saw the vulnerability of our entire nation to energy shortages when Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This reserve provides an additional option in times of energy crisis.”


Senator Cochran, R-Miss., said, “Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma demonstrated the need for the United States to enhance its energy infrastructure. I am pleased that Department of Energy has developed a plan to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Department's decision to locate this new site in Mississippi represents a significant and exciting investment in our state.”


“Actively producing both traditional and alternative forms of energy, Mississippi is, in many ways, setting an example for what America’s future energy strategy will look like,” Senator Lott, R-Miss., said. “And certainly with this commitment from the Department of Energy and America’s strategic petroleum reserve, we are again at the forefront, with the Richton salt domes offering a safe, accessible, flexible and cost effective means of storage that will benefit Mississippi and America for decades to come.”


Lott continued, “Additionally, hurricanes like Katrina and Rita taught us that having a ready fuel supply near susceptible coastal areas will be very important to future hurricane recovery efforts, and certainly this site in Richton meets that criteria.”


Last year, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which included the Pickering Strategic Petroleum Reserve Amendment. This measure directed the Department of Energy to select one or more new sites, and to commence with the administrative and environmental processes necessary to create additional reserve facilities. With the creation of the Richton site and expansion of current sites in Louisiana and Texas, the United States will for the first time be able to achieve its minimum of 1 billion barrels of petroleum in reserve as part of the country’s national energy and national security policy. Currently full capacity tops out at 727 million barrels, which ensures just less than 60 days of protection from import disruption.


Richton had previously been considered as a potential site in 1992 energy legislation.


The expansion of the strategic petroleum reserve is part of the United States national security and emergency policy and is not expected to affect gasoline or energy consumption prices.