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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO summarized its reviews of U.S. participation in the International Energy Agency (IEA). GAO found that: (1) in general, the United States has benefitted from participation in IEA and should continue to participate; (2) although IEA has tested its emergency oil-sharing system and resolved some problems, it is uncertain whether the system will function successfully in an oil shortage; (3) the United States will initially have to provide oil to participants in an emergency, since oil imports represent a small percentage of its oil supplies; (4) the United States has not developed a fair-sharing system to ensure that domestic and international oil producers share the burden of supplying oil in emergencies, since officials do not believe it is needed; (5) antitrust concerns and foreign barriers to information exchange could hamper the emergency system's function; (6) the United States relies primarily on market forces to restrain demand during oil shortages and drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; (7) several IEA members have not met the 90-day reserve requirement; (8) companies are reluctant to provide complete data to IEA information systems which impairs the emergency system's function; and (9) although IEA has established long-term conservation and research and development programs to reduce dependence on imported oil, the United States and several other IEA members have not met IEA goals.

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