IEA Press Release: Saving Oil in a Hurry

(Paris) — 28 April 2005

Today the IEA has issued a new analysis of measures that governments can use to “save oil in a hurry”. There are many possible reasons why governments might want to save oil quickly; an obvious one is to cope with oil supply disruptions.

“Our study shows that a number of measures could provide substantial reductions in transport oil use quickly and cheaply – if countries are well-prepared and act aggressively during an emergency”, said Claude Mandil, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the launch of Saving Oil in a Hurry.

This book provides an assessment of the potential oil savings and implementation costs of rapid oil demand restraint measures for transport. This tool box of measures includes new approaches towards telecommuting, car-pooling, transit use and “ecodriving” (fuel efficient driving styles), among other measures.

If implemented by many IEA countries, certain combinations of measures could reduce world oil demand by a significant amount – on the order of a million barrels per day or more. Such actions could be used to complement supply-side measures (such as use of strategic oil stocks) to help countries cope with oil supply disruptions, and avoid physical shortages and associated price spikes.

Some of the assessed measures may make sense for many situations, others primarily during emergencies; all can be implemented quickly – if governments are prepared. These measures are by no means a substitute for careful transportation planning, promoting efficiency improvements and other medium-term and long-term strategies.

Perhaps most importantly, this book is intended to raise awareness that transport demand response is an important aspect in dealing with supply disruptions, apart from oil supply management. Oil demand in transport is indeed very “inelastic” in the short run. But the measures outlined can help to change that, by giving travellers more options for coping, and giving countries an important tool for lowering the duration and costs of petroleum supply disruptions.

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