At the end of December 2008, the National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) held 46% of their stockholding obligation as physical stocks on the island of Ireland, 38% as physical stocks abroad and 16% as stock tickets. By the end of April 2013, the situation has dramatically improved and the split is now 74% as physical stocks on the island of Ireland and 26% as physical stocks in other EU Member States.
In 2007, NORA held approximately 75 of Ireland’s total 90 day strategic stockholding obligation. Today NORA holds 88 of Ireland’s total 90 day obligation. This increase has come about largely due to the implementation of the new EU Oil Stocks Directive (Directive 2009/119/EC), which came into effect on 1 January 2013, whereby commercial stocks may no longer be counted towards a country’s strategic stockholding.
As an island nation with limited refining capacity and no indigenous oil production, the physical availability of already refined strategic oil product stocks on the island, as part of our strategic oil stocks, improves our security of supply position, particularly in the event of prolonged weather disruption which might make imports difficult. It was considered that the over-reliance on stock tickets (short term contracts for the supply of oil in the event of an emergency), created a vulnerability in the event of supply disruption and this has now been eliminated. There are also benefits to the national economy of holding the strategic stocks on the island of Ireland. In this context, a policy has been pursued since 2007 of rebalancing the wholly owned strategic stocks onto the island of Ireland.
The lack of physical infrastructure on the island available for oil storage required NORA to develop its own new storage facilities which took time as well as additional funding and staffing resources. NORA pursued all options for increasing storage capacity in Ireland, including maximising its use of existing commercial storage and refurbishing existing storage facilities for its own use. In the last 3 years, NORA has refurbished and commissioned three new oil storage facilities on the island – in Dublin, Kerry and Antrim, providing a total of an additional 320,000 tonnes of storage. NORA will continue to seek out new storage facilities and opportunities subject to value for money in line with Government policy. Stocks held in other EU Member States are held in Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Denmark. These stocks are held under Member State to Member State bilateral agreements.