New Orleans - The value of the nation's 727 million barrel emergency tank passed a staggering $80 billion today as crude soared above the $108 a barrel mark.
Now secret moves by Big Oil will see the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve double its capacity by the end of the year.
Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Philips and a few other big boys have met to agree a huge expansion of Gulf of Mexico crude silos that house the nation's emergency stockpile.
These are stored inside man-made salt caverns some 1,000 metres below sea level and come under US Secretary of Energy Dr Steven Chu's official remit.
His spokesperson said today Dr Chu "knows nothing" about any such new capacity moves.
At the reserve's headquarters in New Orleans officials hinted that any moves to greatly alter the status quo would be very much war-related - witness the Bush/Cheney dramatic expansion ahead of the toppling of Saddam.
And the Obama Administration's in no mood for any new war. Anywhere.
Unilateral moves by the super majors to hoard supplies will necessitate the building of 20 new 60m x 600m caverns with average capacities of 40 million barrels.
The crude silos are currently located on marine sites which Big Oil already holds on minimum 50 year government leases.
"Technically they can build what the hell they like," an UpStreamNews bulletin said today.
"Someone sure can smell the smell of new war in the Middle East - pity that's not Dr Chu!"