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US not considering SPR release in response to Iran sanctions: sources

Washington — The US is not considering a release from government oil stocks to dull the price and supply impacts of Monday's announcement it would not renew sanctions waivers for Iran's top crude and condensate buyers, but may announce an additional sale if oil prices climb this summer, sources said.

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"I wouldn't rule it out," a Department of Energy source said Monday.

Sources said a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve had not been studied before Monday's Iran sanctions announcement and said there was not a price or supply scenario where one may be triggered.

In September, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said he opposed a release of crude from the SPR to blunt the impact of re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

At the time, Perry denied the administration was even considering an SPR release. He said even if SPR crude was released onto the market, it would have a "fairly minor and a short-term impact."

The SPR was dedicated to true supply emergencies, Perry said, and with the market well-supplied ahead of the re-imposition of Iran sanctions, he did not expect one.

However, shortly before the Trump administration unveiled sanctions on state-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA in late January, officials considered an SPR release to counter any possible supply impact. The idea was quickly abandoned, sources said.

The SPR, which includes four sites in Texas and Louisiana, has an authorized capacity of 713.5 million barrels of oil and held 649.1 million barrels as of Friday, including 254.6 million barrels of sweet crude and 394.5 million barrels of sour, according to DOE data.

In March, DOE sold of 4.32 million barrels of sweet crude from the SPR, part of a $2 billion modernization plan for the reserve, and the latest in an estimated 290 million barrels of congressionally-mandated sales from the SPR through fiscal 2027.

A DOE spokeswoman said Monday there are 810,000 barrels scheduled for delivery in April and 3.51 million barrels scheduled for delivery in May from that March sale.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com

S&P Global Platts Insight | April 2019 | Shape Shifting: US power markets

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