US to release oil reserves in attempt to lower prices
The US has said it is releasing 50 million barrels of oil from its reserves in an attempt to bring down soaring energy and petrol prices. The move is being taken in parallel with other major oil-consuming nations, including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK. US President Joe Biden has repeatedly asked the Opec group of oil-producing nations to boost output more rapidly. But OPEC has stuck to an agreement to only increase production gradually. It says it is concerned that a resurgence of coronavirus cases could drive down demand, as happened at the height of the pandemic.
Crude oil prices recently touched sevenyear highs, amid a sharp uptick in global demand as economies recover from the coronavirus crisis. It's driven up petrol prices and energy bills in many countries. In a statement the White House said: "American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand.
"That's why President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply." As part of the coordinated effort, the UK government will allow firms to voluntarily release 1.5 million barrels of oil from privately-held reserves. It said the action would support the global economic recovery but "any benefit for UK drivers is likely to be limited and short in nature". India will release five million barrels, while South Korea, Japan and China will announce the amount and timing of their releases in due course.