WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced Thursday that it planned to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as part of a coordinated international effort to drive down high crude prices and revive the flagging economic recovery in the world's most industrialized countries.
The decision sparked a plunge in crude oil prices in the U.S. and Europe. Oil futures were down $4.02 to $91.39 a barrel at about 10:45 a.m. PDT. The price was down as much as $5.72 a barrel in earlier trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price was down as much as $5.72 a barrel in earlier trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The oil will be released over the next 30 days, according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, constituting half the 60 million barrels that the nations in the International Energy Agency plan to bring to market.
"We are taking this action in response to the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries and their impact on the global economic recovery," Chu said. "As we move forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to take additional steps if necessary."
FOR THE RECORD:
Oil prices: An earlier online version of this article stated that crude oil prices had stayed at or above $100 a barrel since February. Prices have been below $100 a barrel recently, and crude oil closed at $95.41 on Wednesday.
Crude oil prices, which peaked at $113.93 a barrel on April 29, have slid as the economy has shown more signs of weakness.