Oil Importers Release Emergency Supplies To Ease Prices

Posted June 23rd, 2011 at 12:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The 28 member nations of the International Energy Agency say they will release millions of barrels of oil from emergency stocks over the next month to make up for production curtailed by fighting in Libya.

IEA officials say disruptions in Libya have kept 132 million barrels of high grade crude oil off the market, contributing to tight supplies and high prices that could hurt the fragile global economic recovery.

U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu says half of the oil to be released will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has been built up to a record high level . Such reserves have only been tapped twice before, once during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and then after hurricanes disrupted oil production along the U.S. Gulf coast in 2005.

The United States is one of the IEA member nations that has agreed to store oil equivalent to 90 days of oil imports in case of supply disruptions.

The IEA announcement came as New York oil prices were already falling by more than $4 a barrel following disappointing reports on U.S. economic growth that may mean reduced demand for energy. Prices for London's benchmark Brent crude oil fell even more.