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Emergency Oil Reserves Tapped: Conservation Plan Gathers Dust

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Emergency Oil Reserves Tapped: Conservation Plan Gathers Dust
Emergency Oil Reserves Tapped: Conservation Plan Gathers Dust

by Eric Doherty

Last week a global oil emergency was declared and the response rolled out, but almost nobody noticed. The International Energy Agency (IEA) started tapping into member state’s emergency oil reserves, something that has only happened twice before. While the crisis in Libya has removed only a tiny percentage of world oil supply from the market, about 1.5 million barrels a day, IEA member countries agreed to release 2 million barrels of oil per day from their emergency stocks over the next 30 days.
So what was the emergency? According to the IEA media release, “the ongoing disruption of oil supplies from Libya . . . threatens to undermine the fragile global economic recovery.”
The “economic recovery” the IEA talks about implies the return to ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which was only briefly interrupted in 2009 by the global economic disruption following the 2007-2008 oil price spike.

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Minimal Impact on Pricing

I find it interesting that with all of the talk about tapping the strategic reserve, prices at the gas pump for consumers have been very slow to come down. If you compare a chart of oil prices to one of gas prices, oil did move down by nearly 20% from the most recent peak but gas prices in most places are only lower by 8-10%.

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