Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives last week called on the White House to tap into strategic oil reserves to lower gasoline prices. Retail gasoline prices in the United States are around $3.64 a gallon, an increase of more than 10 cents from last week, gasbuddy.com reports.
Iran in February announced a decision to halt crude oil deliveries to British and French markets, leading to higher oil prices as investors expressed worry about long-term trends. Oil prices account for about 70 percent of the prices at the pump.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying the White House was "concerned" about Iranian developments and "working" with the International Energy Agency.
The IEA last year called on member states to release strategic reserves to offset market disruptions brought on by the war in oil-rich Libya.
Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman told Bloomberg that Chu wasn't specifically discussing "a potential release" of strategic reserves with the IEA.
"As we do in our normal course of business, we continue to work with the IEA to monitor global oil supplies and demand," she said.