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Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director IEA: “The energy security challenge has become global”

Not so long ago “energy security was seen primarily as a concern of industrialised countries”, but today “the challenge has become global”, says Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a recent interview with World Energy Focus, a publication of the World Energy Council. And it extends beyond oil. “With oil we are doing well. But I do worry when we take a broader definition of energy security.”

Q: Do you agree that instability and conflict seem to be on the increase in the world at the moment and how do you see this affecting energy security?

A: Recent geopolitical instability and conflict in major oil- and gas-producing regions are a cause for concern. The IEA has been closely monitoring developments in Eastern Europe and across the Middle East and North Africa to ascertain their impact on energy markets. Thus far, we have seen only relatively minor disruptions, which have been offset by well-supplied markets. And oil prices have actually weakened in the face of the tensions, indicating that markets feel comfortable about supply. But diplomacy has not yet resolved the underlying areas of contention, so we must remain vigilant. While a market response is always preferable, the IEA and its members stand ready to act if needed.

But collective action to release emergency oil stocks has always been a “last resort” strategy – though an effective one –and is short-term by nature. It is only one tool in the toolbox.And interestingly, it is something of a relic from a time when the definition of energy security was rooted solely in oil. That definition has changed in the 40 years since the IEA was created. And just as our definition of energy security has changed, the ways in which we work to achieve it also are changing.

Perhaps the most striking change in how we approach energy security is that while each country must find its own solutions, the challenge is now global. Initially, energy security was seen primarily as a concern of industrialised countries, but this is no longer the case. This is why we are exploring ways to develop stronger multilateral cooperation.

For the complete article, please see Energy Post.