The United States said on Tuesday it will release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain, to try to cool prices after OPEC+ producers repeatedly ignored calls for more crude.
US President Joe Biden, facing low approval ratings amid rising inflation ahead of next year’s congressional elections, has grown frustrated at repeatedly asking the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, to pump more oil without getting any response.
Crude oil prices recently touched seven-year highs and although they are still some way short of levels reached between 2011 and 2014, when they broke through $100 a barrel, many consumers are feeling the pain of a dramatic increase from a year ago.
The US announcement was for a release of 50 million barrels, the equivalent of about two and a half days of US demand. India, meanwhile, said it would release 5 million barrels, while Britain said it would allow the voluntary release of 1.5 million barrels of oil from privately held reserves.
Details on the amount and timing of the release of oil from South Korea, Japan and China were not announced. Seoul said it would decide after discussions with the United States and other allies. And Japanese media said Tokyo would detail its plans on Wednesday.
Officials said it was the first time that the United States had coordinated such a move with some of the world’s largest oil consumers.
OPEC+, which includes Saudi Arabia and other US allies in the Gulf, as well as Russia, has rebuffed requests to pump more at its monthly meetings.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2021.
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