>> Since the United States began selling oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve last year, three firms that bought oil from the US stockpile raised concerns about dangerous levels of a poisonous chemical in their shipments. That's according to Internal Department of Energy emails and shipping documents reviewed by Reuters.
Katherine Nigh has the story.>> The problem with the oil is that there are very high concentrations of what is known as hydrogen sulfide or H2S. Hydrogen sulfide is a sort of naturally forming chemical that comes from organic compound like crude oil. And the US government says that between 500 to 700 parts per million, people can die within an hour.
And we found crude with close to 9,000 parts per million.>> The Department of Energy oversees the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, which is located on America's Golf Coast, and it's the world's largest emergency fuel supply. The US periodically sell some of its oil at times when there are no emergencies, it started doing so in January of 2017.
>> This was the first time that hydrogen sulfide had been an issue, and quality had been an issue with the SPR. And we've talked to trading houses who have expressed concern about exporting, and buying, and selling US oil.>> Industry experts in chemical petroleum engineers said such incidents are rare, but for those who work with crude oil, it's potentially a major concern.
>> Anybody who is handling it, if you are the shipping dock and you gotta take the pipe and move it into a storage tank, or you gotta test it. Anyone who kinda comes in contact could be affected by this.