IEA says U.S. oil stocks release meets obligations

PARIS Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:43pm EDT

PARIS (Reuters) - The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday the United States had informed it of an oil stocks release and the country remained in full compliance of its obligations.

The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it would sell up to 5 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the first sale from the reserve since 1990 specifically designed as a test.

As a member of the IEA, the United States is required to hold oil stocks equivalent to 90 days of its prior year's net imports and it has to notify the Paris-based agency when it uses its reserves, which the IEA said Washington did.

"Moreover, as U.S. oil stocks currently total more than 200 days' worth of net imports, the United States can proceed with the sale of 5 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and remain in full compliance with the IEA stockholding obligation," it said.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said the sale was to test the capabilities of the national emergency stockpile in light of a quickly changing oil market amid surging domestic shale oil production.

The DOE said that the sale had been discussed for months internally and the White House said that the release was only a test and was not linked to tensions with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Leigh Thomas and Keiron Henderson)

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