The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Friday that a gasoline supply crisis in the United States, if it should occur in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, would be likely spread rapidly worldwide.
The oil market in normal times "is very fluid across the Atlantic and when there is a crisis in the United States, prices rise on the US market and that leads to more oil companies selling in the United States than in Europe," said IEA's head Claude Mandil in an interview with French newspaper La Croix.
"There is no doubt that if in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a gasoline crisis occurs it will spread very rapidly at the world level," he added.
As to a possible use of strategic supplies of other member countries of the 26-member IEA, he said that the Paris-based agency would "carry out its mission, which is to make strategic supplies available to the market if the cut in supply is serious."
"If there is a shortage of gasoline and domestic fuel, the strategic reserves being essentially in Europe, they will be drawn on -- but for the whole world," he said.
According to US government data, Hurricane Katrina has shut down an estimated 90 percent of crude production and 79 percent of natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for a quarter of the total US oil output.