U.S., Other Major Oil Consumers Consider Tapping Reserves as Prices Surge

Source: By Wall Street Journal • Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The U.S. and other major oil-consuming nations are considering releasing 70 million barrels of oil from their emergency stockpiles as crude prices surge, European and Persian Gulf officials briefed on the plan say, amid growing concerns over supply after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Members of the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based body which represents mostly industrialized nations, could agree as early as Monday or Tuesday to tap their national strategic oil reserves, according to the officials. It would include 40 million barrels from the U.S. of mostly light grades, they said.

The U.S. has informed Saudi Arabia to ensure that the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries doesn’t react to the move by interrupting planned production increases, these people noted. U.S. officials didn’t ask for any additional supplies from Saudi Arabia during a trip to the kingdom earlier in February after being previously rebuffed, people briefed by both sides say.

The IEA declined to comment. The U.S.’s Department of Energy didn’t return a request for comment.

OPEC delegates said the group and its Russia-led oil producing allies are currently planning to increase their collective production by another 400,000 barrels a day in April in a meeting scheduled for later this week. The boost would be in line with what the cartel, called OPEC+, agreed to last year as part of a plan to raise output to pre-pandemic levels.

At internal preparatory meetings last week to discuss the possible impact on supply from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the cartel maintained its assessment that there would be a surplus in the first quarter of the year in the absence of major Russian disruptions, the delegates said.