France in talks on strategic oil release

2012-03-28 10:47

Paris - France is in contact with Britain and the United States on a possible release of strategic oil stocks “in a matter of weeks” to push fuel prices down, Le Monde daily said on Wednesday, citing presidential sources.

France would join a UK-US cooperation on a release of strategic oil stocks expected within months, two British sources said earlier this month, in a bid to prevent fuel prices choking economic growth in a US election year.

The presidential office and the French energy ministry were not immediately available for comments.

Crude hit $128 a barrel this month, only $20 short of its 2008 peak, and is up more than 15% since January, largely because of sanctions against oil producer Iran.

They were down 0.6% to $124.85 on Wednesday morning.

Global oil supply outages are running at more than a million barrels a day, a Reuters survey has found, helping provide justification for the United States and Britain should they release strategic reserves in a bid to cut oil prices.

“The use of strategic reserves can be justified because it is related to geopolitical tension,” a source at the presidential office was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Fuel prices in France have also soared to record levels in the past few months, prompting an intense debate between presidential candidates one month ahead of the national election.

The rally has become a major headache for politicians around the world, including US President Barack Obama aiming for re-election in November and facing public anger over soaring US petrol prices.