History of the security of supply

Spain has always been a country which has relied heavily on energy sources from abroad, with practically all the oil and natural gas consumed provided by imports. As a result, and in order to ensure the security of supply of hydrocarbons in the country, it is vital to maintain reserves of petroleum products, which are essential to prevent the interruption of activities dependent on energy in the event of a supply crisis. 

The establishment and maintenance of reserves of petroleum products in Spain can be traced back to 1927, making our country a pioneer in security of supply. This is also the case with natural gas, where reserves have been maintained since 1998, which is exceptional among countries within its sphere.

Spain has been subject to international obligations since 1974, when the International Energy Agency (IEA) was established as a result of the shortage of crude oil and petroleum products which occurred among the member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) following the geopolitical crisis of 1973. The IEA was set up as a body independent from the OECD, with the objective of guaranteeing the supply of liquid hydrocarbons for its member states of which Spain was a founding member. In this way an obligation was established to maintain reserves of crude oil and petroleum products equivalent to a minimum of 90 days’ net imports, although this did not actually alter Spanish regulations as this requirement was already in place.

The IEA may resort to joint action, coordinated among this group of countries, for shared management of the available reserves in the event of a supply crisis. Such action is 8 focused on alleviating interruptions to the supply of oil in the short term, whether by increasing supply (releasing reserves) or reducing demand (implementing restrictive measures, replacement of fuel, activation of extra crude oil production or temporary relaxation of fuel specifications).

Within the European sphere, the European Economic Commission in December 1968 issued Directive 68/414/EEC which obliged member states to maintain a minimum level of reserves of crude oil and/or petroleum products equivalent to at least 65 days’ consumption. This regulation has been successively modified and Directive 2009/119/EC is currently in force, which establishes the same requirements as the IEA. As a result, and since joining, Spain has been subject to a double obligation, that of the EU and the IEA. 

In Spain, via Royal Decree 2111/1994, dated 28th October, the Corporation for Strategic Stocks of Petroleum Products was founded, in accordance with Law 34/1992. Subsequently all related regulations were repealed in favor of the current legislation, Law 34/1998, dated 7th October, governing the hydrocarbon sector, and Royal Decree 1716/2004, dated 23rd July, which regulates the obligation for maintenance of minimum security stocks, the diversification of natural gas supply and the corporation for strategic stocks of petroleum products. 

In December 2013, CORES was appointed Central Stockholding Entity under Directive 2009/119/EC, which defined it as the “body or service to which powers should be conferred to act in the acquisition, maintenance or sale of oil reserves”. 

Spain has been a pioneer country in guaranteeing the hydrocarbon security of supply

CORES history