IEA members and 10 partner countries test emergency response systems

Date: 19/11/2014

Executive Director hails practice exercise to address oil supply disruption scenarios

The International Energy Agency completed its latest biennial Emergency Response Exercise (ERE) on 18 November, as delegates from member and 10 non-member countries in Paris practiced and improved skills for responding to energy supply disruptions.

This seventh ERE focused on how member and non-member countries can co-operate during significant disruptions to oil supplies, building on lessons learned at the previous ERE, in 2012. Participants from the key partner countries China, India, Indonesia and South Africa as well as other non-member countries from three continents worked alongside delegates from government and industry in the 29 IEA countries to examine how best to resolve potential supply interruptions. The process included simulations of responses to three differing hypothetical emergencies.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven opened the ERE, reminding the nearly 100 participants and observers of the genesis of the IEA emergency response process, during the energy crises of the 1970s. But she noted that today many non-OECD countries are as vulnerable to oil shocks as IEA members. “It is in this context that this is the fourth ERE in which we have participants from both member and partner countries working together to find solutions,” she said.

Keisuke Sadamori, IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security, concluded the exercise, calling it “two very interesting and productive days of discussions” that, besides deepening potential co-operation between member and non-member countries, had helped participants better assess disruptions and further familiarise themselves with the IEA emergency response tools.

EREs are capstones in the continuous testing and training necessary for effective use of IEA emergency response during an oil supply disruption. All IEA member countries that are net oil importers must stockpile at least 90 days’ worth of the previous year’s imports. But many hold far more, with reserves this year equalling not just about 220 days of their own net imports but 44 days of total global consumption.

The IEA last co-ordinated a release from member countries’ emergency oil stocks in 2011, when civil war disrupted Libyan production. While the ERE addressed short-term action in the event of an oil supply disruption, the IEA’s wider work considers both short- and long-term energy security for all forms of energy.