White House considers tapping oil reserves

White House Chief of Staff William Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration was considering tapping into the U.S. strategic oil reserve as a way to help ease soaring oil prices.

Speaking on NBC television’s “Meet the Press,” Daley said: “We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering. It is something that only is done — and has been done — in very rare occasions. There’s a bunch of factors that have to be looked at. And it is just not the price.”

“All matters have to be on the table when you see the difficulty coming out of this economic crisis we’re in and the fragility,” Daley added.

Congress has pressured the Obama administration to look to the emergency oil supply to ease consumers’ fears over rising gasoline prices, which are threatening again to top $4 per gallon at U.S. gas stations.

Higher oil prices could undermine the fragile U.S. economic recovery and politically damage President Barack Obama as he moves toward his 2012 re-election bid.

While the White House has said governments around the world had options, including oil reserves, that could be used to prevent an inflationary price spiral due to oil supply disruptions, none have taken the rare step of tapping into their oil reserves.

U.S. oil prices jumped on Friday to more than $3 a barrel to $105.17, their highest level since September 2008, as fighting in Libya worsened and protests in the Middle East intensified.

The International Energy Agency said the revolt in Africa’s third-largest producer had blocked about 60 percent of Libya’s 1.6 million bpd (barrels per day) oil output, largely due to the flight of thousands of foreign oil workers.