In July 2022, the EU held 103.6 million tonnes (mt) of emergency oil stocks, an increase of 2.5% from June 2022. July data show a recovery from the previous month, which recorded the historical low of 101.1 mt marking a decrease of 4.5% compared with January 2022 and of 10.3% compared with June 2021.
Crude oil and petroleum products are crucial in the EU economy, and given its oil import dependency, holding emergency oil stocks means more energy security. EU law demands that the Member States maintain minimum emergency stocks of both crude oil and petroleum products. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these requirements allowed for two emergency stock releases decided in March and April 2022 and aimed at stabilizing the market. The low levels in June 2022 reflect the above releases which were coordinated by the International Energy Agency and backed by several Member States.
The levels of emergency stocks slightly recovered in July 2022 and were mostly composed of crude oil (45.5 mt in the EU), followed by gas/diesel oil (35.9 mt) and gasoline (9.8 mt).
Some EU Member States participating in the joint actions and releasing stocks, fell below their minimum required levels, which were in force between June 2021 and June 2022, and were based on the production and imports data of 2020.
Additionally, new requirements came into force starting in July 2022. In most Member States, these requirements were higher as they were calculated, according to EU law based on yearly needs in 2021 which were higher than in 2020 – a year marked by low demand due to the COVID-19 crisis. The new higher levels further amplified the gap between levels held and levels required however replenishment of emergency stocks is being coordinated in accordance with national and international market conditions.
Commercial oil stocks in constant fluctuation
Unlike emergency stocks that normally are stable, commercial stocks may fluctuate according to market trends. In August 2020, demand had decreased due to the COVID-19 crisis, and commercial oil stock levels registered a record high (63.2 mt), reaching the limits of maximum storage capacity in some countries.
As economic activities resumed, commercial stock levels began to decrease, reaching a low point in December 2021 (44.8 mt), afterwards fluctuated, influenced also by the war in Ukraine, reaching 51.4 mt in July 2022.