Standing Group on Emergency Questions (SEQ)

The IEA Standing Group on Emergency Questions (SEQ) is responsible for all aspects of oil emergency preparedness and collective response to oil supply disruptions.

Ensuring energy security has been at the centre of the IEA’s mission since its creation in 1974, following the oil crisis in 1973. Today, as the global oil market remains vulnerable to a wide range of risk factors, including natural disasters, technical accidents, and geo-political tensions, maintaining the IEA emergency response capability remains essential.

Under the IEA Governing Board, the SEQ is responsible for all aspects of the emergency response. As part of its mandate, the SEQ conducts regular reviews of the emergency response mechanisms of member countries on a five-year cycle. These reviews assess member countries’ emergency response capabilities, their ability to manage domestic supply disruptions, and participate quickly and effectively in an IEA collective action. This process helps to ensure that IEA members continue to adapt their policies to address new and emerging risks and remain prepared and capable of responding rapidly in the event of an energy supply emergency.

While the primary focus of these reviews is oil security, the SEQ has expanded the scope of these reviews in recent years to reflect new trends in global energy consumption. Issues related to natural gas security were added for the 2008 – 2012 review cycle, and issues related to electricity security were added for the latest review cycle, which began in October 2013.

Membership of the SEQ consists of senior experts from IEA member countries and observers from the European Commission, IEA Accession countries, and IEA Association countries. The Industry Advisory Board (IAB), which is composed of experts from oil companies operating worldwide, also provides advice on industry matters. The SEQ is chaired by a representative of the member countries, who is supported by three vice-chairs.

The SEQ is managed by the Energy Policy and Security Division (PSD) of the IEA and meets three times per year, generally in conjunction with meetings of the Standing Group on the Oil Market (SOM), due to the overlap in subject matter covered by the two groups. Core issues of the meetings include stockholding practices and IEA member’s compliance with IEP obligations, Emergency Response Reviews (ERR), and emergency response capacity building (e.g. the IEA’s Emergency Response Exercises (ERE)).

In recent years, SEQ meetings have increasingly covered new and emerging issues related to energy security (e.g. cyber security and digital resilience), and placed a greater focus on emergency response policies in countries beyond the IEA membership. As IEA countries’ share of global oil consumption decreases, promoting dialogue and information sharing with key transition and emerging economies has become more important. With this in mind, the SEQ conducts Emergency Response Assessments and Emergency Response Exercises with Partner countries to ensure that the IEA and its partners remain capable of adequately responding to global supply disruptions.

>> For more of the IEA’s work on Energy Security, click here.