No need yet to act on Harvey, International Energy Agency says

A decision to release oil from strategic stockpiles and other national efforts leaves the United States with high levels of oil and gasoline stocks.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 1, 2017 at 9:35 AM
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Sept. 1 (UPI) -- There are high levels of oil and gas stocks in parts of the region impacted by Tropical Depression Harvey, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Harvey has created "considerable uncertainty" in the energy market because of the density of refinery and production centers along the southern U.S. coast. Major pipeline arteries in the region, notably the Colonial pipeline, are operating only intermittently and some of the port terminals in the region remain closed.

The U.S. government ordered a release from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to ease the market strains. The last SPR release came in June 2011 in response to supply disruptions triggered by unrest in the Middle East during the Arab Spring movements and come through coordination with the IEA.

In a statement Friday, the IEA said it was monitoring the market impact of Harvey and was in "very close contact" with U.S. officials. The IEA said there are high levels of oil and gas stockpiles in the region and the overall market situation is supported by imports to the East Coast and by the decision to release oil from the SPR.

"The IEA does not currently see the need for a coordinated international release of oil stocks. To date, market mechanisms and government assistance have been adequate," it said in a statement. "The IEA stands ready to act as required."

In an update from Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Energy Department said it organized an additional "emergency exchange" with refiner Phillips 66 so it will now receive an additional 500,000 barrels of oil, twice the level announced early Thursday morning.

As of 3 p.m. EDT, Thursday, the Energy Department said there were 10 refineries closed in the Gulf Coast region, representing about 16.6 percent of the total U.S. refining capacity.

Sector issues associated with Harvey are expected to have dramatic impacts at the consumer level just ahead of the last major holiday of the U.S. summer. The EIA put the national average retail price for a gallon of gasoline at $2.40 on Monday, the second lowest level for the Monday before Labor Day since 2004. As of 3:41 a.m. EDT, motor club AAA estimated the national average price at $2.52 per gallon.

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