White House says no decision on oil reserves

03-29-2012, 17h10

The White House said Thursday no decision had been made on tapping the US strategic oil reserve, dampening speculation that major consuming nations could use the supply to curb a surge in petroleum prices.

"I cannot confirm that," White House spokesman Jay Carney said when asked about French statements about a move to tap the reserves.

"I will say, as I have said repeatedly, that this option is on the table, but no decisions have been made and no specific actions have been proposed. We obviously consult... with our partners around the world and energy producing states, but again, there are no decisions that have been made."

Oil prices have fallen in recent days on speculation that major consumer nations such as the United States, Britain and France could tap into their strategic reserves to increase supply.

Such a move, which last took place during the uprising in 2011 in Libya, is usually coordinated by the 28-member International Energy Agency which acts on behalf of oil consuming nations.

France's Energy Minister Eric Besson said on Wednesday that his country was ready to tap into its strategic oil reserves in order to help bring down global crude prices.

"It was the United States that requested this, and France greeted the idea favorably," he told reporters at the Elysee Palace.

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said Thursday it was reasonable to expect a move by the IEA, which said it was concerned about oil prices hitting very high levels and is prepared to take action, if warranted, given a fragile economic outlook.