* Supply disruptions a factor in tapping reserves-Goolsbee
* US oil reserve only tapped handful of times since 1970s
WASHINGTON, March 8 White House economist
Austan Goolsbee said on Tuesday that tapping the U.S. emergency
oil stockpile oil was one option the Obama administration has
to respond to supply disruptions that sent world oil prices
Fighting in Libya has idled around 1 million barrels per
day of oil exports and Kuwait's oil minister said the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is
considering boosting production.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is "an option that we
have," Goolsbee told a National Association for Business
Economics conference in Washington.
"The SPR exists to deal with large international supply
disruptions. That is why we created it. That is mainly the
criteria we use," said Goolsbee, who heads the group of three
economists that advises the White House on economic policy.
Goolsbee's comments came one day after the administration
said that the price of oil was one of the factors that would be
used to determine whether the United States would tap its oil
Mass unrest in the Middle East has sent the price of oil
over $100 a barrel, threatening to undermine the slow economic
recovery in the United States. [O/R]
"We are monitoring the situation," Goolsbee said, though he
added that the White House's Council of Economic Advisers was
not the group that makes the decision to tap reserves.
The United States has only tapped the petroleum reserve a
handful of times since it was created in the mid-1970s in
response to the Arab oil embargo. The reserve holds 727 million
barrels of oil or about 38 days of consumption.
(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Lisa