Weeks Island Strategic Petroleum Reserve Storage Site, Louisiana

Part of the nation's Emergency Oil Stockpile until it was sold due to structural integrity concerns in the vault, in the late 1990's. The Weeks Island site was the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's only mechanically mined storage site. Between 1977 and 1992, a system of underground rooms and corridors excavated by the Morton Salt Company was converted to storage for 72 million barrels of oil. The two-level rooms are up to 70 feet high, with 100-foot salt pillars supporting the roof. Steel-reinforced concrete bulkheads separate the oil storage levels from the equipment areas. The mine is over half a mile wide at an average depth of 700 feet below sea level. The Weeks Island site was filled and in operational standby until the late 1990's. The site connects to the St. James terminal by pipeline. Most of Weeks Island is owned by the Morton Salt Company, which mines salt commercially on the coastal island. Shell Oil Company also operates an oil and gas production facility. These businesses and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve operation represent the island's only development.