IEA conducts first ‘Emergency Response Assessment’ on non-member country

5 May 2011

For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has undertaken a review of a non-member country’s preparedness for a major disruption to its oil and gas supplies. 

In the Emergency Response Assessment (ERA) of Thailand, the IEA team provided “best practice” suggestions and recommendations for Thailand’s future emergency response policy and procedures, for consideration by its Ministry of Energy and relevant Thai agencies and industry.

The ERA was launched in Bangkok on 4 May by Dr Wannarat Channukul, Thailand’s Minister of Energy, and Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones of the IEA.

"We are also working more closely than ever with non-IEA countries on emergency preparedness,” said Ambassador Jones. “This recognizes the shifts in consumption patterns since the IEAs founding and a growing realization that responding effectively to crises today demands cooperation with rising consumers in South East Asia, China, India and the Middle East."

Stocks are critical

In the 36 years since the IEA was founded, it has worked with member countries to prepare them for supply disruptions. “Our experience has taught us that it is critical to have stocks and to be ready to act quickly,” Jones said.

Although the oil delivery system has changed dramatically since the oil shocks of the 1970s, there is still a high risk of a supply disruption which could have great economic consequences for countries.

Thailand’s oil stocks amount to around 45 days of consumption. According to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative, Thailand held some 39 million barrels of oil stocks at the end of December 2010, equating to 63 days of net oil imports in 2010. As of the end of December 2010, roughly half of the stocks were held in the form of crude oil, while the remaining half were refined products.

Developing emergency response measures

The ERA of Thailand is similar in scope to the Emergency Response Reviews (ERR) which the IEA conducts for its member countries. The main purpose of ERRs is to train government officials and oil industry stakeholders in emergency procedures. An ERA recognises relevant facets of the country under review, and combines the peer review of an ERR with policy discussions.

The IEA has been working closely with the Ministry of Energy in Thailand since late 2007 to assist in developing the country’s emergency preparedness. This work has included:

  • Establishing an emergency response hotline between the IEA and the Ministry of Energy;
  • Thailand’s participation in the IEA’s energy security meetings and its biennial Emergency Response Exercises;
  • Organising joint IEA-Ministry of Energy Emergency Response Exercises; and
  • The Ministry’s participation in an Emergency Response Review of an IEA member country.

Regional exercise

Before the launch of the ERA for Thailand, the IEA and the Ministry of Energy in Thailand organised an Emergency Response Exercise for nations from around the Asia-Pacific region. This event, held on 2 and 3 May in Bangkok, was the first time such an exercise has been conducted in the region. Fifteen nations took part.

The participants studied global and regional supply disruptions. The IEA stressed the importance of proper preparedness by having emergency response organisations and measures installed, and by establishing proper channels for international co-operation and co-ordination.

The exercise was supported by the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Secretariat, the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), and the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE).

At the APEC Energy Ministers meeting in Japan in June 2010, Ministers and the IEA agreed to work closely and practically on the global issue of emergency preparedness for oil and gas supply disruptions. As the first activity, the IEA held a week-long Emergency Response Training course for APEC Economies in September 2010. This week’s emergency response exercise was the second such activity.

For more information on how the IEA responds to major disruptions in the supply of oil, click here.

Photo: ©IEA. From left to right: Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the IEA; Didier Houssin, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the IEA; and Aad van Bohemen, Head of the Emergency Policies Division at the IEA.