* Two firms asking about moving 500,000 barrels of oil
* U.S. govt will try to find U.S. ships to move the oil
* Firms doing business in Iran can't bid on SPR oil
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON, June 28 Almost a dozen oil
companies and trading firms took part in a call with government
officials on Tuesday to discuss details on the U.S. sale of
millions of barrels of oil from strategic stocks as part of a
global effort to drive down oil prices.
The Energy Department hosted the pre-bid call for the
planned sale of 30 million barrels of oil on Wednesday to
answer questions about a U.S. shipping law which normally
prevents foreign vessels from moving crude between U.S. ports.
On the call were representatives from BP Plc (BP.L),
Norway's Statoil (STL.OL), Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N), Faroe
Petroleum (FPM.L), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), JP Morgan_(JPM.N),
Hetco, which is partially owned by Hess Corp (HES.N), and Koch
Industries' oil trading arm.
The representatives from Valero and Hetco asked about the
availability of U.S. tankers that could move 500,000 barrels of
None of the companies on the call specified whether they
would bid on any of the reserve's oil. Electronic bids were due
at the Energy Department on Wednesday by 1 p.m. central time
The Energy Department officials declined to say whether
they would hold another sale if the bids fell short of
The department said winning companies could request a
waiver from the U.S. shipping law, known as the Jones Act, if
The law, created to support jobs in the U.S. maritime
industry, requires that goods, such as oil, moved between U.S.
ports be carried by ships built in the United States, owned by
Americans and operated by U.S. crews.
The government would notify companies if there was a
U.S.-based ship available to move their crude. If an American
vessel was not available, Jones Act waivers would be granted,
The department also said companies cannot bid on the crude
if they do business with Iran, which could affect some foreign
The crude from the SPR will be delivered to the winning
bidders in August.
The Obama administration announced its plan last week in
conjunction with other industrialized nations.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by David Gregorio)