The United States has enough oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to prevent a major, economy-wrenching disruption of domestic oil supplies, several oil industry analysts said yesterday.

Not only is there enough oil to make up for the better part of a year the shortfall that a global embargo of Iraqi and Kuwait oil would create in the United States, the sale of the squirreled-away crude oil reserves "would give the U.S. government a nice little cash flow," said John H. Lichtblau of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation.

The administration has ruled out drawing on the 590 million barrel insurance policy created in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s -- a reluctance that is drawing fire from congressional backers of the reserve and from some oil experts.

"It could be the difference literally between making this the worst oil market situation in 50 years and making this a rather mild unpleasantness," said Philip K. Verleger Jr., an oil market expert with the Institute for International Economics.

The reserve ought to be used earlier rather than after a major disruption in the economy occurs, Rep. Philip A. Sharp (D-Ind.), chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, said yesterday. While the administration needs to keep an eye on oil companies to prevent price gouging, he said, it also needs to move rapidly to utilize stored oil. "The one action that we can take that can make a difference over time is to begin drawing down our Strategic Petroleum Reserve," said Sharp.

"If careful preparations are not made now, we could have a terrible supply crisis that could lead to the failure of the embargo," said Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "The whole lesson {of previous oil shocks} is to do things early, not late," he said.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Henson Moore said last week that the situation so far is not serious enough to trigger a release of the reserves. The reserves are released only after a presidential determination that an emergency supply disruption exists. A Department of Energy spokesman said yesterday that the department still believes that the situation does not meet that definition.

"We think there is still unused capacity that can be brought on line to make up for the loss of Iraq and Kuwait," said spokesman Philip Keif. The reserve is supposed to be used only when genuine shortages exist -- not just to stabilize prices. "We certainly do have some healthy primary stocks right now, so we're not in a shortage situation," said Joyce Yanchar of Data Resources Inc.

Many oil industry analysts concur with the DOE view that other producers could offset the loss of Iraq and Kuwait production -- but only if Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbors are willing to risk escalating a confrontation with Iraq by boosting their output substantially. The U.S. reserves, stored underground in salt domes along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Texas, are part of worldwide government reserves that probably total more than 1 billion barrels, Lichtblau said. According to the DOE, those reserve include approximately 208 million barrels held by Japan and about 53 million in storage in West Germany.

An embargo against Iraq's and Kuwait's oil might carve about 3 million to 3.5 million barrels a day from world supplies, said Lichtblau. Since the United States presumably would not be alone in making up the loss, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could give the nation a cushion against it for 6 to 10 months, said analysts.

In the meantime, suppliers such as Venezuela and Nigeria could be expected to step up production.

If the United States were to begin tapping petroleum reserves, the oil would be sold at market prices to the highest bidder. The DOE has the capacity to draw down as much as 3.5 million barrels a day for four months, Keif said.

The Energy Department says that equipment is in place to pump the oil out of the salt domes and to convey it by pipeline to ports where it could be picked up by successful bidders. The Energy Department runs periodic tests of the system in which the oil is actually drawn and put in the pipeline. The most recent such test was in October 1989.