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  • Author: Giacomo Luciani, François-Loïc Henry
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Holding strategic oil stocks is at first sight an obvious tool to address potential disturbances in supplies. Rationally defining the desirable size of stocks and designing rules for their predictable use is an elusive task, however. A key conceptual difficulty arises in the distinction between commercial and strategic stocks, because a physical shortfall in the oil supply will inevitably lead to an increase in prices. But if strategic stocks are utilised when prices increase they become indistinguishable from commercial stocks. This paper reviews the legislation in force in the US and the EU on the use of strategic oil stocks as well as the emergency response systems of the International Energy Agency. It finds that such measures have been activated rarely and in dubious circumstances. Alternative approaches are proposed consisting of encouraging companies and major consumers to hold larger stocks and seeking a cooperative agreement with oil-producing countries for mutually beneficial stock management.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Markets, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Giacomo Luciani
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper looks at resource nationalism and political instability as potential causes of disruption to global oil supplies. It points to depletion preferences and strategies as one form of resource nationalism. In most cases, resource nationalism appears to be motivated by rent maximisation. Hence, we see the adoption of more restrictive policies when prices rise. Conversely, when oil prices are low, increasing export volumes becomes more important. Restrictions on exports are common, especially for natural gas, which is sometimes reserved for national consumption. Export taxes are a tool used by some countries to extract revenue from oil producers. Domestic prices of gas and petroleum products are frequently much lower than international prices, also in some sense reducing availability for export. Political instability has a much more elusive impact on oil and gas exports, and historical experience points to contradictory potential outcomes. This paper concludes that political instability and resource nationalism are rarely associated with acute supply crises or shortfalls. Their effect is rather gradual and normally compensated by action in other parts of the system.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Nationalism, Oil, Politics, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States