The International Energy Agency (IEA) says it will release two million barrels of oil a day from its strategic fuel reserves to help ease the fuel crisis threatening the United States.

In Washington today (Friday), U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the United States will release 30-million barrels of oil from the country's strategic oil reserves. He said IEA nations, mostly European, will provide an additional 30-million barrels of oil for an initial 30-day period.

The last time the IEA ordered a release of oil stockpiles was in January, 1991, when a U.S.-led coalition ejected invading Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

On Thursday, U.S. officials loaned out nearly nine million barrels of emergency crude oil supplies to three U.S. companies, eased environmental regulations on motor fuel, and waived a shipping law to allow better flow of oil into the Gulf Coast region.

The dual announcement had an immediate effect on international oil markets, with prices falling nearly two dollars a barrel in New York in afternoon trading.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.