IEA keeping close eye on oil markets

March 30, 2012 at 8:34 AM
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PARIS, March 30 (UPI) -- The International Energy Agency said it was "ready to act" to oil market situations and is in close contact with its member states.

Crude oil prices have declined in recent days in part because of considerations of the release of strategic petroleum reserves. The IEA last year called for a release of strategic reserves in response to declines in crude oil production during the civil war in Libya.

IEA Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven said she was "concerned" about "very high" oil prices and their potential to affect the global economy.

"The IEA is closely monitoring market developments and will remain in close contact with member countries to exchange views about the oil-market situation," she said in a statement. "As we have mentioned many times, the IEA was created to respond to serious physical supply disruptions, and we remain ready to act if market conditions so warrant."

High crude oil prices last year threatened to derail economic recovery in the United States and Europe. The issue has entered the political debate in the United States and France as both countries head toward presidential elections.

The U.S. and British governments earlier this month said they were considering a coordinated strategic petroleum reserve drawdown.

Paul Horsnell, head of commodities research at Barclays Capital, told the Platts news service a U.S. "release is highly likely but the judgment of when and why and what triggers it will be driven by circumstances and news."

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