The International Energy Agency is releasing 60 million barrels of oil — including 30 million barrels from U.S. reserves — into the world market over the next month in an attempt to tamp down rising gas prices.
The action will drain roughly 4 percent of the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Energy Secretary Steven Chu says is at a "historically high level" with 727 million barrels of oil.
“We are taking this action in response to the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries and their impact on the global economic recovery,” Chu said. “As we move forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to take additional steps if necessary.”
The Obama administration is hoping the move will ease consumer pain at the pump and possibly divert some attention from new reports signaling a growing weakness in the job market.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week was the highest in a month.