The US, the UK, Japan and France are preparing for a potential release of their strategic oil reserves in the next three months as high crude prices threaten to derail the global economic recovery. However, the conversations are preliminary and none of the countries has yet decided to push ahead with a release, according to officials familiar with the talks. Washington has pushed the bilateral route calling on Paris, London and Tokyo for support after encountering initial opposition from Germany, which holds the third largest stocks.
Industry officials said the four countries were quietly drawing up contingency plans for the release, which could surpass the size of last year’s use of the strategic stocks to offset the shortage triggered by the war in Libya.
Eric Besson, energy minister of France, confirmed on Wednesday that Paris was involved in the talks. Asked after the weekly ministers’ meeting whether France would move to release strategic stocks, Mr Besson replied: “It is the US that has asked for it. France is favourable to the suggestion.” A White House official said: “As we have said repeatedly, while this is an option that remains on the table, no decisions have been made and no specific actions proposed.”