Belgium holds public stocks and places a minimum stockholding obligation on industry.
In 2006 legislation established a compulsory stockholding corporation, the Agence de Petrole (APETRA). As of 1 April 2007, APETRA has been mandated to take over the country's stockholding obligation from refiners and importers, reaching full coverage of the obliged emergency stocks within five years.
During the five-year transitional period, oil companies and large direct importing consumers will be required to hold compulsory stocks equivalent to 15 days of net imports. APETRA will fulfil the balance of the overall national requirement. The proportion held by APETRA is scheduled to rise progressively to 100%. Over the same period, the proportion held by oil companies and importers will decline by three days each year, eventually falling to zero.
During the transition period, APETRA is authorised to hold stocks on behalf of any operator not able to meet its individual obligation. The operator will pay a service fee to APETRA.
APETRA stock requirements may be held by both Belgian and foreign oil companies, and retained within their normal operating systems. The Agency may also purchase, by tender, crude oil and/or finished products.
APETRA may hold its share of compulsory stocks as either crude oil or refined products. The legislation does not limit the amount of crude oil held by APETRA. However, its reserves must comply with Belgium's stockholding obligation to the EU, which limits the amount of crude substitution. In the case of holding crude oil, APETRA must use product yields approved by the Directorate General for Energy within the relevant ministry. Also, if APETRA purchases crude oil towards its stock obligation, it must fix both refining yields and refining costs for that crude with a Belgium refinery that will process the crude in the event of an emergency stockdraw.
In the past, compulsory stocks in Belgium have been routinely co-mingled with industry operational stocks. As APETRA will be renting storage capacity from existing operators, this practice will continue. If necessary, APETRA may also build or hire new dedicated storage.
APETRA may hold up to a maximum of 30% of its stocks in a country that has a bilateral agreement with Belgium (such stocks can also be co-mingled with operational stocks). Currently, Belgium has bilateral agreements with France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Informal arrangements exist with the United Kingdom; talks on formal agreements are under way. Belgium permits stock tickets abroad, to a limit of 30% of total compulsory stocks. The stock tickets arrangement must be authorised by the governments concerned.