Obama May Tap Oil Reserves


"Past dips into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have lowered oil prices from 3.4%30%."

If you've purchased gasoline in the past few days you know the story: the price has gone up, and it keeps going up while showing no signs of stopping.

Since the turmoil in Libya broke out in mid-February, the price of crude oil has jumped roughly 20 per cent to more than 104 dollars a barrel, pushing up prices at the pump as well.

CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports that the White House said Sunday it may step in to help.

"The issue of the reserves is one we're considering," said William Daley, White House chief of staff.

It's the strongest suggestion yet that unrest in the Middle East might lead the Obama administration to tap the nation's oil reserves.

The U.S. stored supply of oil, called the "Strategic Petroleum Reserve," contains 727 million barrels. That's enough to keep the nation powered for a couple of months.

Those who want oil released from the reserves now say it would calm spiking gas prices so an economic recovery isn't threatened.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, 30 million barrels were released. Oil prices dropped 3.7%. During the first Gulf War in 1991, 34 million barrels were released and in one day prices dropped 33.4%.

However, some economists say the oil reserves should be saved for a true emergency and this isn't it.

"I think it is premature to open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," said Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics. "I don't think it is going to make a big difference with respect to prices, and I think at this point we can digest these prices."

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports that the pain at the pump is having a huge effect on businesses, especially small ones.

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