U.S. keeps SPR release on the table

Sept. 19, 2012 at 9:19 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- All options remain on the table for addressing economic concerns related to energy prices, including a strategic petroleum release, the White House said.

Gasoline prices in some U.S. markets remain near the $4-per-gallon mark. Refinery issues in California coupled with setbacks from an August hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in part led to higher gasoline prices.

Oil prices on the international market, however, are a major driver of retail gasoline prices. Crude oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange have declined, however, as the U.S. government weighs a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. government was monitoring the energy markets constantly. Assurances from Saudi Arabia regarding market stability, meanwhile, were welcomed by the government.

"We retain the right to keep all options for dealing with those issues on the table, and that includes SPR," Carney said. "But I have no announcements of any action that may or may not be taken."

Saudi officials had said were no physical conditions in the market that warranted energy price increases.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to step into the U.S. retail gasoline market to curb speculation.

"Speculators who make profits by artificially inflating the cost of a basic commodity should be identified and shut down," he said in a letter to Holder.

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