Several oil companies said yesterday they were reducing their prices a few cents a gallon, but most of those doing so were among the companies that had raised their prices the most in the past week -- as much as 30 cents a gallon.

"Some of these companies that are coming down went way up," an executive at one oil company said.

Despite the cuts in wholesale prices, the American Automobile Association said retail gasoline prices appeared to have risen another penny or two, according to an informal survey. On Wednesday, the AAA said retail prices were up 16 cents since Aug. 1.

In Paris, International Energy Agency Chairman Ulrich Engelmann blamed speculation for dramatic increases in oil prices, but said the higher prices should dampen demand. Delegates to a special meeting of the 21-nation IEA said emergency oil stockpiles do not yet need to be tapped to make up for an embargo against Iraq and Kuwait, but the agency will take steps to ''sharpen preparedness if the situation deteriorates,'' Engelmann said.

On the price front, the companies said their reductions were in response to market conditions, citing either the softening in crude oil prices in the past few days or competitive pressure from other, lower-priced brands.

Consumer advocates and other observers, however, said it remained to be seen whether the companies would reduce prices as quickly as they raised them, although several companies said their wholesale gasoline prices had not yet made up their increased crude oil costs.

None of the companies that cut prices said their decision was directly the result of the public furor that has erupted over the higher prices, including President Bush's call for oil companies to "show restraint."

"Prices are responsive to market forces on the way down as well as on the way up, and we are exercising the restraint called for by President Bush," said James H. Ross, president of BP America, which cut its prices 3 cents a gallon yesterday after raising them nearly 20 cents since last Wednesday, the day before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Other companies that reduced their wholesale gasoline prices were Marathon Petroleum Corp., which cut its price 5 cents after raising it by 25 to 30 cents in the past week; Conoco Inc., which cut prices 3 cents after a 22-cent rise; Crown Central Petroleum Corp., which cut prices 4 cents after raising them by 5 to 19 cents; Texaco Inc., which cut its price 3 cents after an 11-cent increase; and Unocal Corp., which cut its prices slightly in the Midwest, after a rise of 7 to 21 cents.

In New York, the price of a barrel of crude came down another 29 cents yesterday to $25.67.

..... ALL PRICES ARE WHOLESALE, NATIONAL AVERAGES FOR .....

........... A GALLON OF GAS, UNLESS NOTED .................

.................. Change Aug. 1-7 .......... Change Aug. 8-9

Amoco..............Up 10 cents................Price frozen one week

Arco.............. Up 4 cents................ Price frozen one week

BP America........ Up 20 cents............... Price cut 3 cents

Chevron........... Up 7 cents (D.C. area).... No change

Conoco............ Up 22 cents............... Price cut 3 to 4 cents

Crown Central..... Up 5 to 19 cents.......... Price cut 4 cents

Exxon............. Up 6.4 cents*............. No change

Marathon.......... Up 25 to 30 cents......... Price cut 5 cents

Mobil............. Up 8 to 10 cents.......... No change

Phillips.......... Up 20.6 cents............. Price cut 4.5 cents

Shell............. Up 10 cents............... No change

Texaco............ Up 11 cents............... Cut 3 cents

Unocal............ Up 7 to 21 cents.......... Up 1 to 2 cents in Midwest;

............................................ slight cut in some other markets

U.S. Average...... Up 16 cents

*Southeastern United States, including D.C. area

SOURCES: Survey of oil companies; American Automobile Association