By Yew Lun Tian, Ahmad Ghaddar and Olesya Astakhova
BEIJING, Nov 25 (Reuters) – China, the world’s largest oil importer, did not promise to disclose whether it will release crude from its reserves, as requested by Washington, while OPEC sources said the US action has not made the producer group change course.
On Tuesday, the administration of US President Joe Biden announced plans to release millions of barrels of oil from its strategic reserves in coordination with major consuming nations such as China, India and Japan, to try to cool prices.
The United States has made the biggest commitment to a reserve release of 50 million barrels of pre-approved sales along with loans to the market, but without China the action would have less impact.
There were no further announcements from Beijing on Thursday, after China said on the eve it was working on releasing its own reserves, confirming a report from Reuters last week that China will release crude according to its needs.
Biden told a briefing on Tuesday that China “could do more.”
Rumors of coordinated action drove crude prices down ahead of the US announcement, but the international market rose more than 3% on Tuesday, when Washington confirmed it would use its strategic reserve and the market lacked clarity on the intentions of China.
The market is also eager to see OPEC’s next move, as Washington’s announcement sparked speculation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC +, might respond.
However, three sources told Reuters the group is not considering pausing its deal to boost production by 400,000 barrels a day each month, a rate considered too slow by some consuming nations.
Demand for fuel collapsed early in the pandemic, but it has resurfaced this year and crude prices have risen, fueling broader inflation.
Biden, who faces low approval ratings ahead of next year’s congressional elections, was frustrated after OPEC + ignored his repeated requests to pump more oil. Retail gasoline prices in the United States have risen more than 60% in the last year, their fastest rate of increase since 2000.
On Thursday, Brent crude was down about 0.5% at $ 81.55 a barrel.
OPEC +, which includes Saudi Arabia and other US allies in the Gulf, as well as Russia, will meet again on December 2 to discuss the policy.
The group is monitoring whether oil markets are balanced, Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said on Wednesday, adding that the group needs to study the latest data before making supply decisions. (Reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing, Ahmad Ghaddar and Noah Browning in London and Olesya Astakhova in Moscow; additional reporting by Timothy Gardner and Alexandra Alper in Washington and Arathy S Nair and Florence Tan in Singapore; written by David Gaffen; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)