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Asia Minute: Indo-Pacific powers join in releasing additional oil to global markets

Gas Prices Nov 2021 oil fuel petrol
Noah Berger/AP
FR34727 AP
A motorist fills up at a Shell station on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in San Francisco, where regular unleaded gasoline was selling for $5.85 per gallon. President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, ordered 50 million barrels of oil released from America's strategic reserve to help bring down energy costs, in coordination with other major energy consuming nations, including India, the United Kingdom and China. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The price of gasoline has continued to spike across the country. That’s led the Biden administration to announce Tuesday that it will tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve — and whether the Biden Administration will tap into the emergency stockpile. And it’s also raising some questions in the Asia-Pacific.

The United States is not alone in using a strategic petroleum reserve — it’s a long-standing practice around the world.

And the U.S. government has targeted the countries that consume a lot of oil to loosen their reserves to help bring down prices — and that includes in the Indo Pacific.

Reuters was the first to report the United States has been asking a number of countries to release stockpiles of petroleum — including China.

In Japan, Kyodo News reported that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decided to release oil from its reserves for the first time because of rising prices.

The only time the country has previously used its reserves was because of supply shortages — such as during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 — and again after the Fukushima nuclear disaster a decade ago.

India is another key player in this process — and that country’s Business Standard reported earlier this week the government had been “working on ways” to release oil reserves.

The paper quoted a senior government official as saying that action was being coordinated with other countries.

That idea of coordinated movement is also the approach South Korea followed.

On Tuesday, the government’s industry minister announced the details of its release of oil reserves will be done in consultation with the United States and other allies.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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