WRAPUP 3-US could tap oil reserves as gasoline price surges

Mon Mar 7, 2011 5:10am GMT

* Obama administration mulling all options to ease prices

* Gasoline hits $3.50/gln, 2nd-biggest two-week rise ever

* IEA members to rely on OPEC to fill Libya shortfall

* Japan, South Korea have no plans to tap reserves-sources

* Crude trading around highest price in over two years (Adds details of Japanese source)

By Jackie Frank and Lewis Krauskopf

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE, March 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. government reiterated that it could tap its strategic oil reserves in order to safeguard economic growth as surging gasoline prices increase pressure for action.

While longstanding U.S. policy is to release reserves only in the event of a significant and immediate supply shortage, some analysts say the Obama administration may feel compelled to try to tamp down prices that are being fueled both by outages in Libya and concern unrest could spread in the Middle East.

Reflecting market worries over unrest, crude futures prices were trading in Asia on Monday around their highest levels in more than two years.   Continued...

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