G7 urges higher oil output, warns on reserves

Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:16pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Finance ministers of the Group of Seven most industrialized nations urged oil-producing countries on Tuesday to raise output to ensure the market is well supplied, while warning that the West was ready to tap strategic oil reserves to offset rising prices that could hamper global growth.

"We stand ready to call upon the International Energy Agency to take appropriate action to ensure that the market is fully and timely supplied," the G7 said in a statement. "The current rise in oil prices reflects geopolitical concerns and certain supply disruptions. We encourage oil-producing countries to increase their output to meet demand."

Oil prices have surged as Western sanctions on Iran led to a loss of about 1 million barrels per day in crude exports from the OPEC member. Prices rose on Tuesday as Hurricane Isaac approached the oil rich U.S. Gulf coast.

The administration of President Barack Obama said it was still open to possible release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

"That option has been on the table for some time, and remains on the table, but we have no announcements to make today," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling to Iowa with President Obama.

Washington considered tapping emergency reserves in March but held off after oil prices declined. Reuters reported earlier this month that the White House was dusting off those plans and that some energy experts viewed Isaac as a potential trigger for such a move.

The head of the IEA, which represents 28 oil consuming countries, voiced her strongest opposition yet to a release of emergency oil supplies. "Higher prices alone are not the trigger for an IEA collective stock release and at this moment we see that the crude oil market is adequately supplied," Maria van der Hoeven said earlier on Tuesday at an industry conference in Norway.

Losses of crude exports due to this year's sanctions on Iran "didn't come out of the blue," she said, adding that the United States would need to decide for itself whether Hurricane Isaac required a domestic stock release.

Oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was down more than 90 percent on Tuesday as Hurricane Isaac headed toward Louisiana as a Category 1 storm. It was expected to make landfall as early as Tuesday night.   Continued...

A customer uses a petrol nozzle to fill up his tank in a gas station in Nice August 27, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard