UPDATE 2-US stance on OPEC oil cut unclear: Energy Secy Chu
(Adds comments from U.S. energy secretary on oil reserve)
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Thursday could not say whether the Obama administration was against another oil output cut by OPEC when the producer group meets on March 15, and that he would have to find out the administration's position.
"I would have to look more into the exact details of what they're (OPEC members) considering and what, you know, I'm not the administration quite frankly," Chu told reporters at the Platts Energy Podium, when he was asked if the Obama administration was against OPEC cutting oil output at its March meeting.
"I will be speaking and learning more about this in order to figure out what the U.S. position should be and what the president's position is," Chu said.
Chu said he planned to talk with energy ministers from OPEC member countries, but he did not know if those discussions would take place ahead of the producer group's March meeting.
Chu's comments follows his remarks on Wednesday, when he said it was "not in my domain" to weigh in on whether OPEC should cut its oil production levels.
The International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog for industrialized countries, said another reduction in OPEC oil production would further tighten global supplies and raise oil prices.
Speaking to reporters earlier this month in Williamsburg, Virginia, Chu said, "I quite frankly don't focus on what OPEC should do."
Chu said he is interested in what Americans can do at home to solve the country's energy problems, such as using more renewable energy.
On other oil issues, Chu said on Thursday he would have to "look at the aspects" of possibly delaying oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve this spring if more supplies were needed in the market to help keep U.S. gasoline prices from spiking.
During its last days in power, the Bush administration awarded contracts to add about 17 million barrels of oil to the emergency stockpile.
About 13 million of those barrels are scheduled to go into the reserve over March and April, which is when U.S. gasoline demand usually starts to increase as driving picks up in the spring.
If OPEC cut production at is March meeting and gasoline prices starting rising sharply, Chu indicated there was little he could do to delay oil shipments to the stockpile so more supplies could stay in the market. He said those oil deliveries were likely "a done deal." (Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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