Feb. 12 (UPI) -- More than three dozen countries participated in a broad-based global exercise meant to simulate a coordinated response to oil supply disruptions, the IEA said.
The International Energy Agency said Monday it concluded a five-day emergency response exercise meant to simulate a multilateral release of strategic oil stockpiles. The IEA has called on its 29 member states to release oil from strategic reserves three times in its history -- before the 1991 Gulf War, after Hurricane Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005 and in response to long-term supply disruptions from Libya's civil war in 2011.
Usually featuring only member states, the IEA said last week's drill was its broadest ever in terms of actual participation, with 44 countries playing a role.
The drill concluded on the same day that U.S. lawmakers sent a budget bill to President Donald Trump that would sell off about half of what's in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves within the next few years.
As of Feb. 2, there were 665 million barrels stored in the SPR. It has a design storage capacity of 713.5 million barrels. It was set up in part as a response to the 1970s era oil embargo on the United States imposed by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries frustrated by U.S. policies on Israel.
Over the last decade, however, oil from the SPR has been used for everything to finance healthcare initiatives to keeping hurricane-ravaged refineries at home running. A proposal to balance the budget last year from President Trump relied in part on SPR sales.
The planned sale of SPR barrels, meanwhile, comes as the United States rivals Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production.
Analysts with a former working relationship with the president said the SPR shouldn't be used as a piggy bank. Sandy Fielden, the director for oil and products research at Morningstar, told UPI the SPR sales included in the U.S. budget plan won't undermine U.S. energy security, however.
"Given the higher expected domestic production, the need for SPR is diminished anyway," he said.