Ireland ‘reasonably well insulated’ from fuel crisis as contingency plans are discussed

Contingency measures discussed include reduced speed limits on motorways and limits on travel

The chances of contingency plans for a major fuel crisis caused by the Ukraine war being activated has been played down by the Government.

Ireland is said to be “reasonably well insulated” from fuel-supply shocks and the Government says it does not envisage having to implement any such plans.

The Department of the Environment offered reassurance on the fuel situation in the wake of a report that officials have been considering a series of measures – including an order to return to working from home – that could be introduced in the event of a major issue with supply.

The Ukraine war has sent energy prices soaring and many western countries are seeking to end their imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

READ MORE

Government officials here conducted an oil emergency training exercise on May 26th attended by key departments, State agencies and industry representatives.

Hypothetical scenarios of fuel shortages of varying severity were considered.

The Irish Independent reported on Monday that contingency measures discussed included non-essential workers being told to work from home; limits on travel and the amount of fuel that could be purchased by motorists; and reduced speed limits on motorways.

The Department of the Environment would not confirm the details of the contingency measures discussed.

A spokesman said: “Overall, Ireland is reasonably well insulated from direct supply shocks, as few imports of crude oil and a comparatively small proportion of Ireland’s refined product originate in Russia.”

He added: “In addition, Irish importers have now voluntarily moved away from imports of oil originating in Russia.”

The spokesman said the short- to medium-term supply outlook is “positive”, with petroleum product availability having improved somewhat in the last few weeks and “no major supply difficulties expected over the upcoming months”.

“In the context of contingency planning, work continues on operational planning for all scenarios,” he said.

“The activation of any such plans is not envisaged, however, as is the case for all other jurisdictions across Europe, such planning is appropriate and prudent in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

He said of the training exercise: “In hypothetical scenarios, the oil emergency response plan and the oil stock drawdown plan include how, in the event of a release of strategic oil stocks, the stock would be distributed to the oil sector in order to maintain supply.”

The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) currently holds about 85 days’ worth of oil stocks with about 85 per cent stored on the island of Ireland.

The department spokesman said: “Notwithstanding the improved supply position, the department, in conjunction with NORA, is working closely with the petroleum industry to closely monitor supplies of oil into the Irish market place.”

He said the agency was ready to release strategic stocks to the market if required.

Some reserves were released by the agency in early March and early April as part of a co-ordinated global release of reserves agreed by members of the International Energy Agency.

The department established an energy security emergency group which is co-ordinating responses in relation to the impact of the war on energy security.

The group includes representatives from the Department of Enterprise, NORA, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, Gas Networks Ireland, EirGrid and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

The group is tasked with ensuring emergency plans are up to date and stress tested.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times