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US closing in on decision to join global release of oil as Russian invasion of Ukraine causes gas price spike at home

The total number of barrels released globally could range from 50 million to 60 million barrels, senior administration officials and others familiar with the matter said, though sources cautioned that a decision had not yet been finalized and deliberations were still underway Tuesday morning.

Other allies are also expected to dip into their stockpiles in a coordinated effort to bring down energy costs amid the ongoing Russian invasion. They include Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and other major European countries, as well as Japan and South Korea.

The invasion of Ukraine has driven concerns about a supply disruption from Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer. Brent oil prices closed above $100 a barrel on Monday for the first time since 2014. US crude and Brent jumped another 5% on Tuesday even as the International Energy Agency meets to discuss a response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

High oil prices have lifted prices at the gas pump to seven-year highs. The national average for regular gasoline rose to $3.62 on Tuesday, up about 9 cents in a week and 24 cents in a month, according to AAA. At some point, energy prices could get so expensive that it erodes demand from consumers and slows the broader economy.

US officials have spent the last several weeks on calls and in meetings with counterpart key energy supplying countries in an effort to secure commitments to back-fill any market disruptions. The effort included an in-person visit to Saudi Arabia from two senior administration officials to discuss the need to address the effect on oil markets. The US informed Saudi Arabia ahead of the oil reserve announcement.

The White House has not laid out any specific commitments and White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether any specific request for supply increases had been made when asked this week during a briefing.

Biden signaled his intent to release the oil last week.

“We are actively working with countries around the world to evaluate a collective release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves of major energy-consuming countries. And the United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant,” he said.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency is holding a last-minute meeting Tuesday on oil supply with the goal of “stabilizing markets,” it said earlier this week. The meeting with be chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

Tapping the reserve — the stockpile of 600 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas — generally has only a limited effect on gas prices because of how much oil can be released at a time, but would act as a political sign that Biden is confronting the problem.

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth expressed support on Tuesday for governments to release emergency stockpiles of oil to offset supply fears triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I do think a coordinated response by multiple countries could help in the near-term,” Wirth said in response to a question from CNN during a briefing with reporters. “Certainly, we’ve seen markets on edge with concern about supply and supply reliability.”

Wirth expressed confidence that there will not be a major supply disruption.

“I’ve seen nothing to indicate that either Russia’s intentions or the intentions of governments involved in sanctions would be to restrict oil supply,” Wirth said. “In fact, quite the opposite. It would appear to me that people have been very careful to signal their intention is to try to maintain energy supply to a world that needs it.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Matt Egan contributed to this report.

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