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IEA monitoring Persian Gulf developments

  |   Jan. 17, 2012 at 6:32 AM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The International Energy Agency could respond to a major Middle East oil crisis but doesn't see any immediate need for action, the group's director said.

Iran, in response to sanctions by Western countries concerned about its nuclear ambitions, threatened to choke off the Strait of Hormuz, a conduit for one-fifth of the world's oil shipments.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its January report made no mention of Iran's threat but IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said her agency was watching developments closely.

"At this time, the best thing that we can do is to see to it that we know what's going on and to keep on monitoring the whole thing," she told the Platts news service from the sidelines of an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates.

High energy prices last summer caused economists to fret over long-term effects on the global economy. After its regular summer meeting, OPEC left official production quotas in place despite economic concerns. The IEA, however, called on member states to release oil from their strategic reserves to offset market disruptions brought on by the war in Libya.

The IEA had said that it didn't see an immediate need to take action because there were no current market disruptions.

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