Bloomberg News

Report of Deal on Oil Inaccurate: Obama Aide

March 15, 2012

The U.S. and U.K. haven’t agreed on a release of oil from strategic stocks, according to an Obama administration official.

A report that the two nations will cooperate in an effort to cut rising gasoline prices is inaccurate, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations between President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House yesterday.

Obama and Cameron discussed oil supplies and use of the strategic reserve without reaching any decision, a U.K. official with knowledge of the talks said.

Crude oil for April delivery dropped 37 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $105.06 a barrel at 12:15 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price dropped to $103.78 after Reuters reported that the U.K. has decided to cooperate with the U.S. in a bilateral agreement to release strategic oil supplies.

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.

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

All Options

White House press secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly declined to comment directly on discussions about tapping the strategic reserve, while saying all options to keep down energy costs are being considered. Obama has said there are no easy solutions to rising energy costs.

“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, outside Washington.

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 east 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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