The United States failed yesterday to persuade the 19 other members of the International Energy Agency to set an across-the-board percentage cut in their petroleum imports for 1980.
A number of the others led by West Germany, raised objections to that approach at the two-day meeting of the IEA governing board, reported Washington Post correspondent Ronald Koven.
The objections seemed to reflect a reduced sense of urgency about the need to cut back oil consumption since there is a large surplus in the market, recently estimated by Iea director Ulf Lantzke at more than a million barrels a day.
U.S. officials also expressed disappointment that a ministerial meeting originally scheduled for late March to review members' oil conservation programs was pushed back to May.
"We want to go as far and as fast as possible; some members don't see the same urgency," said one American.
The U.S. officials said the delay means that it will be practically impossible to set meaningful goals for cutting oil consumption this year. They said they hoped the meeting could at least get an early start on setting reductions for 1981.
In place of an IEA-wide percentage decrease in oil imports this year, the members agreed on a flexible system that takes into account such factors as Turkey's need to stimulate growth and the concern of countries that have already cut back not to be asked for further cuts while other countries have done little.
In 1979, the IEA countries adopted a goal of a 5 percent reduction in oil imports, and only about three countries met it. The IEA-wide reduction was 3.5 percent.