As part of its mandate to promote oil security, the International Energy Agency (IEA) conducted an emergency response exercise (ERE) from 5-9 February 2018. While previous EREs have featured only IEA Member Countries with some partner countries observing the exercise, last week’s exercise featured the broadest ever real participation, with 44 countries around the globe taking part.
The purpose of the ERE is to simulate how the IEA coordinates the release of emergency oil stockpiles in the event of an oil supply disruption. Participants are guided through the “Initial Contingency Response Plan” in real time, in order to help countries gain a better understanding of the procedures and mechanisms that need to be implemented during an IEA coordinated action. The exercise tests communication within and between participating countries and the IEA Secretariat under time pressure, and also tests the emergency data reporting capabilities of participating countries.
The exercise began with a training session in which participants were briefed on IEA emergency response procedures during a crisis. Following the training session, participants worked to develop strategies to respond to a realistic, hypothetical supply disruption scenario.
Previous EREs have simulated major disruptions to global oil supplies, ranging from large-scale natural disasters to geopolitical conflicts. Participating countries watch the details of the situation unfold through a series of simulated news clips, which are followed by discussion on possible courses of action.
This year’s ERE featured all 29 IEA member countries, IEA Accession countries Chile and Mexico, Association countries China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, and Thailand and via the European Commission the eight EU countries that are not a member of the IEA. In total, countries representing some 70% of global oil demand participated in the exercise, compared to only 46% if it had been limited to IEA Members alone.
“I believe this is a good example of the concrete benefits of our modernisation strategy,” said IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol, “It underscores the synergies between our efforts to open the doors of the IEA to emerging economies and the IEA’s core mandate of enhancing energy security.”
Since the creation of the IEA, there have been three collective actions: in the buildup to the Gulf War in 1991; after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged offshore oil rigs, pipelines and oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005; and in response to the prolonged disruption of oil supply caused by the Libyan Civil War in 2011.