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IEA Has No Immediate Plan to Release Oil Stockpiles on Iran

Iran Might Hurt Self Most by Closing Strait of Hormuz
An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speed boat, passing by a submarine during navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/AFP/Getty Images

The International Energy Agency, the adviser to U.S., Germany and Japan, isn’t planning an immediate release of emergency oil stockpiles in response to the tension in the Middle East.

“We remain prepared to respond to any significant oil supply disruption, but as no specific supply disruption is under way, we are not actively considering any action at the present time,” the Paris-based adviser said on its website today.

Crude oil gained over the last three weeks, partly on concern that Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The waterway carries about 17 million barrels of oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. That’s about 19 percent of global consumption.

The IEA’s last emergency release of government and industry stockpiles was in June, when about 60 million barrels of crude and oil products were made available in response to the slump in supply from Libya. It also made supplies available during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and when Hurricane Katrina damaged oil rigs and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.

The IEA prepared a plan this week to release as much as 14 million barrels a day if Iran were to close the Strait of Hormuz, Reuters reported yesterday. The IEA estimated its members could in theory make about that volume of crude available to markets in a report dated Feb. 25, posted on its website.

Inventories of crude and refined products in industrialized nations fell below their five-year average for a fourth month in October, the IEA said last month. Stockpiles declined by 36.3 million barrels to 2.63 billion, according to a Dec. 13 report.

Crude oil for February delivery closed at $101.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, marking an advance of 2.8 percent this week and 8.6 percent since Dec. 16.

The IEA is an energy policy adviser to 28 industrialized nations.

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