Germany releases 3.3 million barrels of oil to bolster supplies damaged by Hurricane Katrina

Germany will release more than 3.3 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic reserves to help bolster supplies damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement said Tuesday.

The oil is part of a coordinated release by the 26 member nations of the International Energy Agency, which unanimously approved a U.S. request Friday to release the equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil per day for an initial period of 30 days _ making up for the damage caused by the hurricane.

Katrina ravaged the Gulf of Mexico coast, shutting down 1.5 million barrels per day of oil production and 2 million barrels a day of refining capacity, according to the IEA.

Under the terms of the international agreements underpinning the IEA, almost half of the emergency stocks released will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Germany's contribution represents roughly 6 percent of the total commitment, making it one of the highest contributors after the United States.

Light crude oil for October delivery was down 79 cents by midday in Europe on Tuesday to US$66.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, which was closed Monday for the U.S. Labor Day holiday. It closed Friday at US$67.57 a barrel.

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