FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2004

27 Senators To Ask White House To Reconsider Position On Spr In Light Of Opec Plan To Cut Production

Gas prices at all-time high, but Administration continues to take oil off the market; Senators ask President to stop filling reserve until prices stabilize

Last year, White House stopped filling SPR because of tight US oil supplies, but US supplies today are virtually identical to last year's levels

With OPEC deciding on Wednesday to move forward with its plan to cut oil production by 1 million barrels a day, a group of US Senators led by Charles Schumer is urging the White House to reconsider its position to keep filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR). The letter was signed by Senators Schumer, Mikulski, Stabenow, Dodd, Corzine, Boxer, Kennedy, Pryor, Leahy, Wyden, Reid, Edwards, Reed, Kohl, Rockefeller, Harkin, Dayton, Jeffords, Levin, Lieberman, Feinstein, Feingold, Clinton and Lautenberg.

"I've been cris-crossing my state over the last month, and everywhere you go the refrain is the same: gas prices are way too high," Schumer said. "We asked the President to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower the prices and he said no. Now OPEC, which controls almost half of the world's oil, has decided to lower the amount of oil in the world's supply. This decision is disappointing. I hope the White House will reconsider its position and stop filling the SPR."

Yesterday, OPEC met in Vienna and decided to proceed with its decision to reduce its supply of oil. OPEC members' national oil ministers meet regularly to discuss prices and set crude oil production quotas. On February 10, OPEC decided to lower its production quota from 24.5 million barrels per day to 23.5 million barrels per day, effective April 1. If the production of oil decreases, many experts believe that gas prices will continue to climb. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the current eleven OPEC members account for almost 40% of world oil production and about two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves.

Schumer yesterday urged the President to demand that OPEC reverse its decision to decrease the oil supply and instead increase it so that gas prices can go down.“We simply cannot allow our economy, and the world's economy, to be placed in jeopardy by a foreign oil cartel," Schumer wrote with other senators in a letter to the President. "Accordingly, we urge you to aggressively pressure OPEC to forgo its planned production cuts and to increase global oil supply.”

OPEC was founded in Iraq in September 1960 to unify and coordinate members' petroleum policies. Original OPEC members included Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Between 1960 and 1975, the organization expanded to include Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Nigeria. Although Iraq remains a member of OPEC, Iraqi production has not been a part of any OPEC quota agreements since March 1998.

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