EU ministers agree to weekly oil stock reports

BRUSSELS - EU finance ministers agreed on Tuesday that the European Union should start publishing weekly reports on oil stock levels, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde announced after chairing talks in Brussels.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 8 Jul 2008, 10:03 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:48 PM

The meeting of ministers from the 27 EU countries focused mostly on the problem of record world oil prices and what could be done to improve the transparency and functioning of the oil market where prices are established.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said Berlin had disliked the idea initially, both because of the bureaucracy and the risk that it might add to volatility rather than reduce it, the latter being the hope behind the plan.

"But as many would like to try it I won't stand in the way," Steinbrueck told reporters.

Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos, whose country had also been reticent at one stage, said: "It was concluded that the proposal has the support of all finance ministers".

Due to the way EU decision-making works, one official said, the political accord now needed to be transformed by the European Commission into a formal proposal for such regular reporting on the oil situation, probably in September.

That could then be returned to ministers or EU leaders for the final stamp of approval, perhaps in October, that official said.

The United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, already publishes weekly data on crude oil and refined product inventory levels, refinery processing rates and import volumes.

The U.S. government's Energy Information Administration and the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, survey petroleum companies and release figures on Wednesdays, with the EIA figures more closely monitored by oil traders and investors.

In Europe, monthly inventory figures are reported by Euroilstock. There is no equivalent to the U.S. EIA.

Britain had also expressed some reluctance in the past but voiced no objections on Tuesday, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Another official said things remained slightly hazy in the immediate wake of the meeting, in particular on details of what might be in the weekly reports and on the timing of the more precise proposals that the Commission would have to flesh out.

France's Lagarde said the idea was one of several being explored in the hope of securing greater transparency in oil markets.

The European Investment Bank would be consulted for its input, as would the European Central Bank for its analysis of the oil market, she said.

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