The U.S. is weighing the option of using its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease potential supply restrictions, an Energy Department official said, echoing comments by Secretary Steven Chu in recent weeks.
“It is being considered,” Charles McConnell, acting assistant secretary for fossil energy, said at a hearing in Washington today of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. “It has been in consideration for some time, and no decision has been made.”
The Obama administration is studying a possible release from the reserves as it monitors rising gasoline prices and political turmoil in the Middle East, Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said separately on Feb. 28. They haven’t indicated that the U.S. will tap its emergency petroleum supply.
Crude oil for May delivery fell 6 cents to $106.97 a barrel at 1:09 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price reached $107.73 before falling to $106.52 after McConnell spoke. Futures have gained 8.3 percent this year.
“I wasn’t speaking about any specific release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” McConnell said at the hearing, clarifying his remarks.
McConnell’s office in the Energy Department needs to be ready to respond should the government decide to release from the stockpile, he said.
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