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Crude oil prices retreat
September 21, 2000: 12:14 p.m. ET

Futures slip as Gore calls on U.S. to release emergency stockpiles
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Crude oil prices slid lower in late morning trading Thursday after U.S. Vice President Al Gore called on President Clinton to tap the government's emergency reserves to bring down oil prices.

U.S. light sweet crude for November delivery fell 74 cents to $34.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, crude futures hit a new 10-year high at $34.98.

London's benchmark Brent for November delivery dropped 41 cents to $33.33.

An administration spokesman said President Clinton was considering the proposals, and Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling described Gore's ideas as "very much on the table."

Gore urged the White House to release emergency stockpiles from the graphicStrategic Petroleum reserve. The 571-million-barrel reserve was used only once before -- during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, when Iraq and Kuwait stopped pumping oil.

The stockpile, stored in underground salt caverns along the Gulf of Mexico, was set up by Congress in the mid-1970s after the Arab oil embargo.

However, Kate Warne, senior energy analyst at Edwards Jones, said it is unlikely the United States will release oil from the Strategic Petroleum reserve because it is designed to be used when oil is not available, rather than a way to smooth out price swings.

Warne said supply and demand remains tight as fears of winter supply shortages continued. "People are worried where additional supply will come from," she said.

A report Tuesday showing a drop in U.S. oil stocks in the past week sparked a renewed call for the U.S. government to tap its strategic petroleum reserves to help ease the crunch.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush denounced the plan as a potential threat to national security and an election year political ploy.

The West's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, said Wednesday it was not considering using its own emergency stocks to lower runaway prices.

Oil prices have so far gotten little relief from an agreement two weeks ago among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost output by 800,000 barrels a day. Some OPEC countries have said that high prices could trigger yet another hike before the cartel's Nov. 12 meeting, while others have maintained that high prices for oil products stem from speculative buying by traders in the crude market, refinery bottlenecks and high taxes on fuel.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday that prices were "fair" and that any further output hike should be viewed with caution.

The Halle, Germany-based Institute for Economic Research said on Thursday the weak euro and rising oil prices were no grounds for panic, and warned against knee-jerk reactions.

Truckers, fishermen and farmers across Europe have protested in recent weeks against the high taxes their governments levy on gasoline. Back to top

-- Reuters contributed to this report


Oil futures hit 10-year high - Sept. 20, 2000

OPEC agrees to output hike of 800,000 barrels per day - Sept. 10, 2000



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