WASHINGTON, D.C. - Though many energy analysts predicted more severe fuel supply shortages in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, some well timed oil imports helped the nation avert that fate, according to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). Just days before Katrina made landfall, the International Energy Agency (IEA) told its member countries to release strategic reserves of oil to help add extra supply into the market. As a result, the U.S. announced the sale of up to 30 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; less than half of that was eventually sold. But some European countries responded by releasing strategic reserves of key petroleum products, especially gasoline. Those product reserves reached U.S. shores just as Hurricane Rita was taking a heavy toll on the Lake Charles and Port Arthur refining centers, thus averting a sharp drop in inventories, according to the EIA.