European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo
March 1 (UPI) -- The International Energy Agency on Tuesday announced it is releasing 60 million barrels of oil from its emergency reserves in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The 31 member countries of the IEA's governing board agreed to release the emergency supplies during the body's annual ministerial meeting in Paris.
"It is heartening to see how quickly the global community has united to condemn Russia's actions and respond decisively," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. "I am pleased that the IEA has also come together today to take action. The situation in energy markets is very serious and demands our full attention. Global energy security is under threat, putting the world economy at risk during a fragile stage of the recovery."
The announcement comes as oil prices Tuesday reached a seven-year high. The U.S. oil benchmark hit $106.50 per barrel while the international benchmark Brent crude was trading at $107.26, the highest since July 2014.
The spike in prices is in response to global fears of shortages because Russia is a key exporter of oil.
The IEA said the release of the emergency supplies will send a message to global oil markets that there won't be a shortfall of oil during and after the invasion.
The United States, the European Union and other countries have placed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion Thursday of Ukraine.
Member states of the IEA hold about 1.5 billion barrels of emergency stockpiles. The 60 million-barrel release represents about 4% of those stockpiles.
The IEA said Russia is the third-largest oil producer and largest exporter in the world, giving it "an outsized role on global energy markets." Russia exports about 5 million barrels of oil daily, about 12% of the global trade.
"I am grateful that IEA member countries made available the initial 60 million barrels to provide stability to oil markets," Birol said. "I am also happy that our member countries committed to do their utmost to support Ukraine in terms of fuel supply.