Obama Considered Tapping Oil Reserves to Improve Economy: Chu

Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011 | 12:26 PM ET

A plan that would have tapped into the strategic petroleum reserves was one of many ideas President Obama has considered to bring down the price of oil, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told CNBC Wednesday.

"The president has said over the last few weeks that all tools will be on the table to first correct for the disruption of the supply of Libyan oil and also to stabilize prices," he said.

He has also said that higher oil prices are causing strains on the U.S. economic recovery.

Chu was reacting to a Reuters report that the U.S. at one point considered shipping some of the light low-sulphur, or "sweet," crude out of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to European refiners, who needed it after the war in Libya cut off shipments of its premium crude varieties coveted for making gasoline and diesel.

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In return, Saudi Arabia would sell its heavier high-sulphur or "sour" crude at a discount back to the United States to top up the caverns that hold America's emergency stocks.

"We're very cognizant of the pain for all Americans but also to the fact that higher gasoline prices so impede the economic recovery," said Chu, who said he was not involved in the discussions on the proposed swap.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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