March 29, 2012 / 6:59 AM / 6 years ago

French PM optimistic on oil stocks release accord

PARIS (Reuters) - France believes there is a good chance of a U.S.-Europe accord on the release of strategic oil reserves, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Thursday.

He was commenting in an interview, less than a month from a presidential election, on France Inter state radio.

Fuel prices in France have hit record levels, prompting an intense debate between presidential candidates ahead of the national election.

Earlier this month British sources said London was prepared to cooperate with Washington on a release of strategic oil stocks that was expected within months, in a bid to prevent fuel prices from choking economic growth in what is also a U.S. election year.

French ministers revealed on Wednesday that Paris was in talks with the United States and Britain on a possible release of strategic oil stocks to combat a recent surge in the price of crude on world markets.

The price of benchmark Brent crude oil is up about 15 percent this year.

“My impression is prospects are good for agreement between the United States and Europe,” said Fillon, who added: “Don’t expect miracles on drops in petrol prices.”

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin, speaking in another interview on Europe 1 radio, said he had good reason to believe that there would be a release from oil reserves, a step that needs the backing of the International Energy Agency.

Jean-Louis Schilansky, head of the French oil industry federation (UFIP) was in another interview on RMC radio when asked whether further crude price rises were to be expected: “I don’t think so”.

He said collective action at the international level was vital for strategic stock releases to have an impact on world prices.

Reporting by Brian Love and Jean-Baptiste Vey; editing by Jason Neely

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