U.S. had only one request for SPR oil loan after Isaac-source

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 4, 2012 4:08pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has not received more requests for emergency oil loans in the wake of Hurricane Isaac after granting one to a refiner last week, a government source who declined to be identified said on Tuesday.

The Department of Energy on Friday loaned Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC.N) 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has a capacity of about 727 million barrels. The storm had forced Marathon to cut production rates at its Garyville, Louisiana refinery.

Isaac hit land as a low level Category 1 hurricane before fading.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has the power to make small loans from the SPR, which are distinct from larger sales from the reserve typically involving lengthy discussions with countries that consume and produce oil.

As oil prices remain stubbornly high, the White House has said tapping the SPR remains an option, but no decisions have been made.

In 2011, the United States sold 30 million barrels of oil from the reserve as part of coordinated sale with other consumer countries to counter production losses in war-torn Libya. After that sale, the SPR holds about 696 million barrels.

Marathon's Garyville 490,000 barrel-per-day refinery was back to full rates on Tuesday. Several refineries along the Gulf Coast were still restarting after Isaac.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Phil Berlowitz)