U.S. Official: Report of Oil Release Agreement 'Inaccurate'


The Obama administration hasn't reached an agreement with the U.K. to release oil reserves, saying a report suggesting otherwise was inaccurate, according to an Obama administration official.

"The reports of an agreement are inaccurate. We regularly consult with the British on energy issues and any discussion that we had was in that context. We will continue to monitor the situation and consult with them and others," the official said.

A report Thursday morning suggested Britain had agreed to release oil reserves along with the U.S.

The report comes a day after Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed Iran, energy prices and oil markets during a meeting in the White House Oval Office, according to the official.

High oil prices frequently lead to calls for President Barack Obama to sell some of the 700 million barrels of oil locked in the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Calls for an SPR sale have become even more intense this year as Obama and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle face re-election. Recent polls show Obama's popularity dropping as gas prices rise.

Global prices have spiked in part because of concerns over U.S. and European efforts to impose tighter sanctions on Iran, the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

At this time last year, when unrest in Libya disrupted the country's oil production, dozens of lawmakers pressed Obama to open up the emergency stockpile and ease pressure on global prices. In June, the U.S. announced it would sell 30 million barrels as part of a global effort aimed at offsetting lost Libyan exports.

A decision to sell the strategic reserves, however, would be controversial. Many energy experts say the emergency supplies should only be used in instances where there are significant disruptions in global supplies. Responding to growing support for an SPR sale last month, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), ranking member on the Senate energy committee, said such a move would be "shortsighted and irresponsible."

"Rising gas prices are painful for all of us, but the SPR is our nation's insurance policy against serious oil supply disruptions, not a political lever to be pulled when rising prices at the pump make life uncomfortable for the White House," Murkowski said.