Personally I don't see the US do the same in the opposite direction plus if it weren't for all those SUVs and American energy inefficiency, there'd
be much less of a problem. I suspect the only reason they're doing this, is because they fear that if the US economy goes down with increasing oil
price, the EU economies will be dragged down along.
Brussels - The 26 members of the International Energy Agency (IEA), among whom 17 EU member states, are prepared to deliver oil - especiallt gasoline
- to the United States from their own strategic reserves. This has to help ease the shortages that have been created in the US by hurrican Katrina.
The communication of the EU about the aid to the US did not excel in coherence. At the informal summit of the ministers of Foreign Affairs in Wales,
High Representative Javier Solana first declared that the US could count on the support from the strategic oil reserves of the different EU countries
"if they ask for it". This was followed by the denial of the British minister and EU chairman Jack Straw that something like that was on tracks:
"There is something like an oil market."
When asked about the apparent contradiction, a spokesperson for the European Commission replied that this kind of matters is in the first place an
affair for the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. Of the 26 IEA members, 17 are EU members. "If there is a demand for it, we can play a
coordinating role", so the spokesperson said. The US yesterday formally called the aid of the IEA. The US only keep strategic reserves of crude oil
for emergencies, but not of end products. Because of the hurricane, the capacity for refining 2 million barrels a day has gone lost, the IEA says.
Because of this, there is a gasoline shortage in some states.
The member states of the IEA keep 4,1 billion barrels of oil in stock, of which 1,4 billion are controlled by governments and can be addressed in case
of emergency. In the first month of a crisis situation up to 12.9 million barrels of crude oil per day and up to 3.3 milllion barrels of finished
products can be used. Because for addressing the strategic reserves there needs to be a unanimous agreement between all IEA-memberstates, yesterday
afternoon a meeting took place. The 26 member states agreed with the proposition to bring for one month long 2 million barrels of oil a day into the
market. There is especially a need for gasoline. The deliveries are made against the price of cost.
Belgium, IEA member, was just as the other members polled in advance to make a contribution for looming energy shortage in the US. Minister of Economy
Marc Verwilghen yesterday announced that "our nation is ready to supply part of its gasoline reserves to the US". Belgium possesses strategic
gasoline reserves for more than 120 straight days of normal consumption. That is 30 days more than the stocks for 90 days of consumption required for
all EU members, according to a European directive, to keep in reserve for most important petrol products. The EU according to its own statements has
oil reserves for between 115 and 150 days.
Since the oil crisis of 1973 the EU also has an "Oil Supply Group", which only meets next friday. They will discuss the situation on the world oil
market and the "potential release of reserves for the world market". The European Commission is also prepared to make available for the US experts
in natural disasters and material such as water pumps. They are waiting for that however for a formal request from Washington.