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API: Counter prices with regional reserves

Feb. 23, 2012 at 8:19 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Rising gasoline prices in the United States could be offset by more domestic oil and natural gas production, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Gasoline prices in the United States have escalated in recent weeks in part because of tensions with oil-rich Iran.

API Chief Economist John Felmy said the United States should look at regional oil and natural gas resources to shield domestic markets from foreign turmoil.

"The industry must be allowed to develop at home more of its ample crude oil and natural gas resources," he said in a statement. "More U.S. barrels on crude markets would help drive down crude costs and reduce gasoline prices."

Iran said it was cutting crude oil shipments to France and the United Kingdom, a largely symbolic move meant as retaliation for Western sanctions on Tehran. Iranian oil executives said, however, that European countries could secure crude oil shipments if they signed contracts with the government.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said tapping into the strategic petroleum reserve could offset market concerns about Iran.

"It is essential that the United States have an aggressive strategy for releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat the speculators capitalizing on the fear in oil markets and to send a message to Iran that we are ready, willing, and able to deploy our oil reserves," he wrote in a letter to the White House.

An executive from French supermajor Total told the Platts news service this week that talk of high oil prices was to blame for high oil prices.

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