WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- A drop in crude oil prices precipitated by lower demand from China followed the sale of more than 30 million barrels from U.S. stockpiles, authorities said.
The U.S. Energy Department announced it doled out 28 contracts to 15 companies for the full release of 30.64 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
"The department is currently coordinating with the successful contract awardees, the Maritime Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate and streamline deliveries, including those for companies that have requested early delivery of the crude oil in July 2011," the Energy Department said in a statement.
The International Energy Agency in June called for the release of strategic reserves to offset crude shortages from war-torn Libya. The move followed a decision by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep 2008 production quotas in place.
Oil prices, however, were down around $3 per barrel as China pulled back on consumption, The Independent newspaper in London reports. Chinese oil imports for June were 11.5 percent less than the same time last year, adding fuel to concerns the global economic recovery had faltered.