U.S. not seeking emergency fuel supplies: Bodman
MCLEAN, Virginia |
MCLEAN, Virginia (Reuters) - Energy Secretary Sam Bodman reiterated on Thursday that the country was not seeking emergency fuel supplies from abroad, saying supplies would not be a problem over time, despite shortages caused by recent hurricanes.
Despite gasoline supplies shrinking to their lowest levels since 1967, Bodman said the country could not justify seeking fuel from the International Energy Agency as it appeared the industry would be recovering soon.
"It was, frankly, hard to make the case that it made a lot sense to ask for foreign intervention in a situation where our markets are telling us that, sure, there are going to be some interruptions over the next couple, three weeks but it's not going to be a problem over time," he told reporters after a breakfast speech.
He also said he was not aware of any more drawdowns from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A number of companies sought help from the reserve after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike disrupted the energy industry in the U.S. Gulf coast.
The head of the IEA also said on Thursday there still was no need for IEA members to release emergency fuel supplies to the U.S. market.
"We don't have to mobilize," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka told Reuters in an interview. "The market is now taking care of the current situation," he said.
Tanaka said the U.S. Energy Department had not asked the IEA to release fuel supplies in response to the low U.S. inventories.
"We have consulted very closely with the Department of Energy on the current situation," Tanaka said, adding that the U.S. oil industry was "much better prepared" to handle the supply disruption caused by Gustav and Ike than it was when Hurricane Katrina hit three years ago.
He pointed out that high U.S. gasoline prices were encouraging European refiners to export more motor fuel to the U.S. market, where they can make a bigger profit.
Tanaka acknowledged that U.S. gasoline inventories were very low and said IEA members were ready to help, if the supply problem becomes much worse.
(Additional reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Walter Bagley)
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