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The U.S. and 30 other nations are releasing oil from reserves to try to calm markets

Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Vernon Hills, Ill., on June 11, 2021. Crude prices continued to gain on Thursday even after the U.S. and 30 other countries announced a coordinated release of oil from their reserves.
Nam Y. Huh
/
AP
Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Vernon Hills, Ill., on June 11, 2021. Crude prices continued to gain on Thursday even after the U.S. and 30 other countries announced a coordinated release of oil from their reserves.

The United States and other members of the International Energy Agency are releasing 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic petroleum reserves after crude prices surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

That represents just 12 days' worth of Russian oil exports, and by itself, the move is seen as unlikely to significantly bring down oil prices. In fact, crude prices continued to rise despite the news — the global benchmark, Brent, soared past $107 a barrel to set a seven-year high.

The global release is also smaller than a similar release coordinated by the U.S. with individual allies in November, which also did not move prices down.

This time around the U.S. will release 30 million barrels from its reserves as part of the IEA action with 30 other countries.

So far, Russian oil and gas exports have not been directly targeted with sanctions, as the U.S. and Europe are wary of disrupting global energy supplies.

However, traders and analysts report that financial sanctions on Russia and concerns over the risk of future energy sanctions are already slowing down the sale of Russian oil and gas, though not stopping it completely.

The U.S. has also signaled that direct energy sanctions remain on the table, as Moscow shows no sign of backing off its military assault on Ukraine.

"We are prepared to use every tool available to us to limit disruption to global energy supply as a result of President Putin's actions," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday.

"We will also continue our efforts to accelerate diversification of energy supplies away from Russia and to secure the world from Moscow's weaponization of oil and gas," the statement added.

Oil markets are also waiting for an OPEC+ meeting Wednesday, where many analysts expect the powerful cartel will keep to a gradual increase in oil supplies, rather than accelerate production — another force keeping oil prices high.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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