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Strategic oil stocks

The obligation of the Member States to build up and maintain a minimum petroleum reserve gives security of supply of petroleum resources to the European Union (EU). Due to the importance of oil in the EU’s energy mix, the EU’s strong external dependence for supply of petroleum products and the geopolitical uncertainty in many producer regions, it is vital to guarantee consumers continuous access to petroleum products.

ACT

Council Directive 2006/67/EC of 24 July 2006 imposing an obligation on Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products.

SUMMARY

In an unstable geopolitical environment where the balance between supply and demand is generally uneasy, particularly due to growing demand from new mass consumers such as China, the European Union’s dependency on imports of petroleum products is an increasing cause for concern for European economic prospects.

A supply crisis caused by our supply of petroleum products from third countries being unexpectedly interrupted would most likely have a serious impact on European economic activity. Breaks in supply could also occur within the EU.

It is in order to ensure the security of its oil supply that the EU obliges Member States to guarantee minimum stocks of petroleum products that can be used in the event of a supply crisis to replace all or part of the shortfall.

Strategic stock-holding requirement

Member States are required to build up and constantly maintain minimum stocks of petroleum products equal to at least 90 days of the average daily internal consumption during the previous calendar year.

The calculation of the daily internal consumption is based on motor spirit and aviation fuel, gas oil, diesel oil, kerosene and jet-fuel of the kerosene type, as well as fuel oils.

Amongst the petroleum resources accepted in the statistical summary of strategic stocks are supplies held in ports of discharge, or those on board oil tankers in port for the purpose of discharging, once the port formalities have been completed, supplies held in tanks at the entry to oil pipelines and also those held in refinery tanks. On the other hand, certain resources may not be included in the statistical summary, such as crude oil not yet extracted, supplies intended for the bunkers of sea-going vessels, supplies in pipelines, in road tankers or rail tank-wagons, in the storage tanks of retail outlets and those held by small consumers, as well as quantities held by or for the armed forces.

Member States who have their own petroleum production may deduct this proportionally from their stock-holding obligation. Such deduction may not, however, exceed 25 % of the Member State’s internal consumption.

Member States may include in their statistical summary of strategic stocks only quantities that are at their full disposal in the event of an oil supply crisis.

Stock-holding arrangements

Stock-holding arrangements must ensure that the stocks are available to and accessible by Member States so they can react immediately in the event of a supply crisis. In fact, Member States must be able to control allocation of the stocks and quickly make them available to the sectors where the need for supply is the most urgent.

Stock-holding may rely on a system of partial or total delegation to a stock-holding body or agency. Member States ensure transparency of the stock-holding arrangements and make sure that fair, non-discriminatory conditions are applied.

The stocks may be held outside national territory in another Member State. The Member State on whose territory the stocks are held has control of them and guarantees their actual availability. It does not include them in its statistical summary.

Member States have an obligation to ensure administrative monitoring of their stocks, in other words to ensure their control and supervision. Breaches of these control mechanisms are covered by a system of penalties.

Member States send the Commission a statistical summary of the stocks existing at the end of each month, stating the number of days of average consumption of the previous calendar year that they represent.

Coordination

In the event of a supply crisis, a coordinated operation is put in place and the Commission organises a consultation between the Member States, either on its own initiative or at the request of one of them.

Member States do not, in principle, make withdrawals from the stocks that would bring them below the compulsory minimum level before such a consultation, except in a particularly urgent situation.

Member States must therefore send the Commission information relating to any withdrawal from the stocks (date on which the stocks fell below the compulsory minimum, reason for withdrawal, steps taken to build the stocks back up, likely stock levels during the period in which they will remain below the compulsory minimum).

Background

Since the end of the 1960s, the European Union has been aware of the need to prevent potential oil supply shortages. Council Directive 68/414/EEC therefore laid down the obligation on Member States to build up and maintain strategic oil stocks. Subsequently, Council Directive 72/425/EEC raised the obligation for stocks initially set at the equivalent of at least 65 days of the daily internal consumption to an obligation for stocks equivalent to at least 90 days. Council Directive 98/93/EC developed and strengthened the provisions of Directive 68/414/EEC. In the interests of clarity and effectiveness, these Directives were consolidated in, and thus repealed by, Council Directive 2006/67/EC.

When anticipating or reacting to a supply crisis, replacement of the shortfall by putting onto the market stocks built up by the Member States can be effective only in tandem with certain complementary measures (to promote energy efficiency and thus reduce consumption of hydrocarbons, to improve dialogue with producer countries, carry out more in-depth market analysis for better forecasting, to diverse energy sources, in particular by promoting renewable forms of energy, etc.).

This Directive will be repealed by Directive 2009/119/EC from 31 December 2012.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2006/67/EC

28.8.2006

-

OJ L 217, 8.8.2006

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 77/706/EEC of 7 November 1977 on the setting of a Community target for a reduction in the consumption of primary sources of energy in the event of difficulties in the supply of crude oil and petroleum products [Official Journal L 292, 16.11.1977].

Amended by Decision79/639/EEC [Official Journal L 183 of 19.7.1979].
Member States may be bound to reduce their oil consumption. The Decision therefore provides that the Commission can set a target for reducing the consumption of petroleum products by up to 10 % of normal consumption.

Last updated: 16.11.2009

See also

  • For further information, visit the “Oil” page, and in particular the “Security stocks” page, on the DG for Energy and Transport website.
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