White House: Oil price not 'sole factor' in tapping reserve

The rising cost of oil will not be the “sole factor” in whether the administration taps the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the White House said Monday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted Monday that while opening the reserve is under consideration, such a decision would be based on the possibility of a “major disruption” of oil production.

Carney spoke one day after Bill Daley, President Obama’s chief of staff, said the president is considering tapping the reserve. Unrest in the Middle East has sent the price of oil skyrocketing to $107 per barrel on Monday.

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“There are a number of factors that go into it, and it's not price-based alone,” said Carney, who in response to questions was adamant that he was not walking back Daley’s comments.

“It's important to look at history … and the times when it has been used. So I wouldn't look to a price threshold. The issue here is disruption. Is there a major disruption in the flow of oil? That's obviously a factor.”

Oil prices rose more last week than they have in two years, and the price jump is having an impact on what U.S. motorists pay at the pump. That could hurt Obama politically, though Carney insisted the president will not make any decisions on the strategic oil reserve based on politics.

Carney acknowledged that the president is “very cognizant of the fact that Americans are experiencing a sharp rise in prices at the gas pump, and that affects them and their family budgets.”

“And we are monitoring that very closely,” Carney said.

"The U.S. is in discussions with other oil producing countries in the Middle East “about the various options that are available in the global system to deal with a major disruption, should that occur,” Carney said.

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