US faces stiff opposition to emergency oil release plans

August 18, 2012 01:00

HOUSTON/WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama faced stiff resistance to the possibility of releasing emergency oil reserves to quell rising energy prices on Friday, with Asian allies and the head of the West's energy agency rejecting any need for action now.

A day after Reuters reported that the White House was "dusting off" plans for potentially tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven, was blunt in her assessment: "There is no reason for a release."

The IEA "bases our actions on data and reality. The market is sufficiently supplied," she told reporters in Houston. She said she had not discussed a potential release with members of the Paris-based IEA, which is charged with coordinating use of consumer nations' strategic inventories.

But if US gasoline prices, currently at about $3.80 a gallon, keep rising ahead of the Nov. 6 election, Obama could face increasing pressure to use the SPR to ease prices.

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