Bloomberg News

Obama Spokesman Says No Agreement on Releasing Oil Reserves

March 15, 2012

The U.S. and the U.K. haven’t reached any agreement on releasing strategic oil reserves or set a timetable for action, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron discussed energy supplies during Cameron’s visit to the White House yesterday, Carney said at a briefing.

“It is inaccurate, as was reported, that any kind of agreement was reached” on a course of action, he said. With rising energy prices threatening to crimp the economic recovery, it “should not be surprising” that Obama and Cameron would discuss the matter, Carney said.

Cameron’s spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters today in New York: “The issue of oil supply was discussed, but no decisions have been taken.”

Crude oil for April delivery declined 31 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $105.12 a barrel at 12:38 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 6.4 percent this year.

The national average retail price of unleaded regular gasoline in the U.S. climbed to $3.821 a gallon yesterday, according to a daily survey by the American Automobile Association (3AGSREG). That’s 7.5 percent higher than a year ago, according to AAA’s survey.

Political Issue

Rising gasoline prices have opened a line of attack by Republican presidential candidates, as higher energy costs in an election year overshadow gains elsewhere in the economy, including the addition of 227,000 new jobs in February.

Some Democrats in the U.S. Congress have urged Obama to use the oil stockpile as gasoline prices have risen amid a standoff with Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. Obama has cited turmoil in the region and greater demand from rapidly growing countries such as China and India.

Carney said he wouldn’t discuss deliberations about the strategic petroleum reserve. He repeated earlier statements that all options are under consideration to keep down energy costs. Obama has said there are no easy solutions.

“There’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to high gas prices,” Obama said in a speech today in Largo, Maryland, near Washington. “Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t really looking for a solution.”

Releasing oil from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve has proven no guarantee of lower prices at the pump over the last eight years. In four instances, gasoline rose following the announcements of supplies from emergency inventories. In 2008 and 2011, tapping stockpiles brought down the cost of a fill-up, according to data from AAA.

The strategic reserve was last tapped in July and August 2011 under an International Energy Agency effort to ease shortages in supplies from the Middle East.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net; Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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