The International Energy Agency said it will release 60 million barrels of oil from emergency stocks in the next 30 days to alleviate supply problems caused by the shutdown of Libyan crude exports due to the civil war.
The IEA, which represents major energy-consuming nations, said the tight supply situation was becoming a threat to a fragile global economic recovery. "I expect this action will contribute to well-supplied markets and to ensuring a soft landing for the world economy," IEA chief Nobuo Tanaka said.
The U.S. Department of Energy said it would release 30 million barrels a day as its contribution toward the measure.
The unexpected announcement drove crude-oil futures lower, with the Nymex contract for August delivery down 4.5% to $91.13 a barrel.