Obama says prepared to tap U.S. oil reserves if needed

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:26 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday the United States is prepared to tap its strategic oil reserves to address rising gasoline prices if conditions require such a step.

Obama told a news conference that U.S. officials are monitoring any potential manipulation of the oil market and said he believes the United States can handle oil supply disruptions better than it has in the past.

"Other oil-producing nations have committed to filling any gaps and we will continue to coordinate closely with our international partners to keep all options on the table when it comes to any supply disruptions," Obama said.

"Here at home everybody should know that, should the situation demand it, we are prepared to tap the significant stockpile of oil that we have in the strategic petroleum reserve."

Obama said Americans are used to gasoline prices going up and down, and now is the time for the United States to seriously tackle its energy policies.

He called on Democrats and Republicans to work together on energy policy, and he pushed back against accusations that his administration has discouraged offshore oil and gas exploration.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Tabassum Zakaria)