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US Prepares To Tap Strategic Oil Reserve, Crude Prices To Surge

"White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration is considering tapping into the U.S. strategic oil reserve as one way to help ease soaring oil prices." Speaking on NBC television's "Meet the Press," Daley said: "We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering. ... All matters have to be on the table." There has been support among Senate Democrats for tapping the reserves. Senator Jay Rockefeller on Thursday became the third Democrat to ask President Barack Obama to tap America's emergency oil supply to cool prices that have risen past $100 a barrel on the strife in Libya." What our esteemed politicians fail to realize that tapping the SPR is analogous to Lehman filing an 8K declaring to the world it is now tapping directly into the Fed's discount window for its liquidity - that didn't end too well. The problem with the SPR is that as a non-marginal replacement of supply it is largely a puppet: with a capacity 726.7 million barrels, the SPR holds a 34 day reserve at the US daily consumption of 21 million barrels. The picture is slightly better when considering that the US only imports 12 MMbd, meaning there is a 58 day supply. But the biggest issue that nobody is considering, is that the maximum total withdrawal capacity is physically limited to just 4.4 million barrels per day. In other words, should the MENA escalation flare up, there is no way to physically replace all the lost output. Yet what is most troubling is that even as the US is about to start using up its reserves, Asia is actively shoring up its oil, meaning that as our own oil buffer gets ever smaller, Asia could easily dictate economic terms over the OPEC cartel as soon as a few months from now if the Bernanke liberation wave does not end any time soon.

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