The decision was taken today at an extraordinary board meeting of ministers chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
During the meeting, ministers expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine and voiced support for sanctions imposed by the international community on Russia.
“It is heartening to see how quickly the global community has united to condemn Russia’s actions and respond decisively,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.
“I am pleased that the IEA has also come together today to take action. The situation in energy markets is very serious and demands our full attention.
“Global energy security is under threat, putting the world economy at risk during a fragile stage of the recovery.
Birol added that he was “looking forward to welcoming Ukraine energy minister German Galushchenko as a special guest to our forthcoming Ministerial Meeting later this month”
IEA members hold emergency stockpiles of 1.5 billion barrels of oil. The announcement of an initial release of 60 million barrels, or 4% of those stockpiles, is equivalent to 2 million barrels a day for 30 days.
The coordinated drawdown is only the fourth in the history of the IEA, which was formed in 1974: the previous three were in 2011, 2005 and 1991.