|West readies Iran oil contingency plan |
|WESTERN powers this week readied a contingency plan to tap a record volume from emergency stockpiles to replace nearly all the Gulf oil that would be lost if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources and diplomats told Reuters.
They said senior executives of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 28 oil consuming countries, discussed on Thursday an existing plan to release up to 14 million barrels per day (bpd) of government-owned oil stored in the United States, Europe, Japan and other importers.
Action on this scale would be more than five times the size of the biggest release in the agency's history — made in response to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The maximum release, some 10 million bpd of crude and about 4 million bpd of refined products, could be sustained during the first month of any coordinated action, the plan says.
"This would form a necessary and sensible response to a closure of the strait," a European diplomat told Reuters. "It wouldn't take long to put in place if it was required and would be unlikely to prove controversial amongst the (IEA) membership." A spokesman for the IEA confirmed that the Parisbased agency has an existing contingency plan that outlines a maximum stock release capability of 14 million bpd for a month.
|Sarkozy, Monti urge unity over euro crisis |
|PARIS ITALIAN Prime Minister Mario Monti warned the European Union on Friday not to let divisions over managing its debt crisis blow up into serious splits, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that a euro collapse could trigger instability.
Sarkozy, who met Monti in Paris ahead of his talks in Berlin on Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Rome and Paris shared a "perfectly identical view" on Europe's future and onhow the crisis of confidence in the bloc should be resolved.
Monti, a respected technocrat, has been warmly embraced by the French and German leaders since he took over from Silvio Berlusconi in November and pledged to turn his crisis-hit country around.
The heads of the top three eurozone economies are now striving to achieve closer fiscal integration in Europe and convince the world they can stem a devastating debt crisis.
|France financial transaction tax push hits EU resistance |
|PARIS FRANCE said on Friday it aimed to push ahead with a new tax on financial transactions even without its EU partners on board, although Germany and Italy stuck to the idea of a tax across the 27- nation bloc in the face of stiff resistance from Britain.
Presidential adviser Henri Guaino said France would take a decision on the socalled "Tobin tax" by the end of January to set an example for the rest of Europe. French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said the aim was to have a tax in place this year, at least in France.
"Decisions will be taken by the end of January as far as France is concerned," Guaino told RMC radio.
"France will take the lead on this issue. We will see how it can be applied." "It's better if Germany is involved. I hope we can do it with Germany. We will keep discussing it in the coming days and weeks, but France is ready to lead by example on this front and hopes it can bring others along," he said.
The idea will be discussed when President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet on Monday in Berlin and at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on January 30.