Sylvia Pfeifer in London and Anna Fifield in WashingtonOil prices tumbled after Western nations surprised the market, releasing the biggest amount of oil from their emergency strategic stocks since 1991, in a calculated shot across the bows of Opec, the oil producers’ cartel.
The International Energy Agency agreed to release 60m barrels of oil in the coming month to offset the loss of 1.5m barrels a day production of high quality oil from Libya, the north African country engulfed in a civil war.
The US led the release, providing 50 per cent of the crude oil, with Japan, Germany, France, Spain and Italy providing the bulk of the rest.
The move is only the third time in the history of the IEA which was created in 1974 as a counter balance to Opec after the Arab oil embargo a year earlier which triggered an oil crisis.
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