Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 05 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Energy Reserves.

Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the Government’s target for oil reserves to be held in Ireland or abroad under the auspices of the National Oil Reserves Agency; the number of days the reserve currently stands at; his views on access to stocks held abroad in the event of an oil crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26633/06]

  Mr. N. Dempsey:Under the European Communities (Minimum Stocks of Petroleum Oils) Regulations, 1995, the National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) acts as an agent of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and is responsible for the maintenance of such levels of strategic oil reserves as I, as Minister, determine at least once a year.

On 1 May 2006 Ireland’s oil stocks reserves were estimated — using the International Energy Agency methodology — at 99 days net imports. This comprised 32 days stocks held in Ireland by NORA, 32 days held in Ireland by oil companies and oil consumers, with the balance of 35 days being held abroad either directly by NORA or on its behalf under what, in the industry, is termed “stock tickets” — the latter being a mechanism whereby NORA has the option to buy, under commercial contracts and at market prices, volumes of oil in the event of an oil emergency being declared. At 1 May 2006 therefore some 64 of the 99 days stocks were held in Ireland, with 67 of the 99 days being under the control, either directly or indirectly, of NORA.

The holding of stocks in other EU Member States is provided for in the relevant EU Directive on oil stocks which provides that where stocks are held abroad the actual availability of the stocks for the beneficiary body — in this case NORA — must be guaranteed at all times throughout the period of the contract by the undertaking holding the stocks.

Over the past 5 years, Ireland’s monthly levels of oil reserves — using the IEA methodology — have been consistently in or around 100 days. In [917] addition, in the event of a significant global oil supply crisis, Ireland’s oil reserves would be extended out over the period to supplement continuing available commercial supplies. In this context reserves provide cover for periods far in excess of their expression in terms of number of days.