EU talking to U.S. on oil release: EU energy chief
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is in close contact with the United States and the International Energy Agency (IEA) but sees no immediate need for any release of oil stocks, the EU's energy chief said on Wednesday.
Oil markets have been on alert for a possible release from strategic reserves after news in March the United States had held talks with the British and French on the issue.
In an election year, the U.S. administration is anxious to bring down gasoline prices as the summer driving season looms and further debate is expected at G8 talks at the end of this week in Camp David, United states.
"At the moment the oil price is stable or going down. All our analysts say we have enough oil in Europe and globally, but we are flexible. We are in good contact with the IEA, the government in Washington and the member states," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Reuters' Global Energy and Environment Summit.
"We have a pragmatic approach if there is any need to organize volumes coming out from our stocks, we can activate (them) in a few days. We are thinking about this. We are in contact with the U.S. administration," he said.
International crude prices have fallen from a high for the year so far of $128.40 a barrel at the start of March, to just below $112 on Wednesday as supplies have swollen and economic turmoil has made traders flee riskier assets.
Supply in the market is ample in part because of extra Saudi Arabian barrels, which have compensated for Iranian oil halted by EU sanctions against Iranian crude.
Britain is seeking to persuade fellow EU members to postpone a ban on insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil on the basis it could cause a damaging spike in oil prices.
Oettinger reiterated that the official state date for the ban on importing EU oil was July 1 and said enough provision had been made for Greece, which was particularly dependent on Iranian crude it had been buying at a discount.
"We have been in contact with our colleagues (in Greece) for the last four to six weeks and there has been no warning call from them," Oettinger said.
(Editing by William Hardy)