Fears over the ability of countries to withstand major disruptions to their oil supplies have reached a new high.
In the aftermath of Scotland's Grangemouth oil refinery strike, concerns were voiced over whether individual country’s reserves of oil were adequate or easily accessible in the event of a major interruption to supplies.
“Analysis of the legislation in force and of the existing emergency stockholding systems in Europe reveals shortcomings which justify a revision of the present system,” said the European Commission.
As a result the amount of emergency reserves of oil that all countries such as Scotland and England are required to hold is being reviewed.
The commission said that concerns over the true amount of reserves being held by countries, the availability of that stock in an emergency and the need for much of that stock to be in the form of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel rather than unrefined oil all need to be addressed.
As a result, it has begun consultations to decide whether governments now need to have direct control of a major portion of the 90-day emergency oil reserves they are required to hold under a law that was introduced in 1968 and has not been amended since.
At present, many European countries count the stocks held by commercial oil companies as part of their reserves.
However, the Commission is concerned that this fuel might not be easily available in the event of an emergency.
Therefore, it has suggested governments must maintain a minimum proportion - for example at least a third - of emergency stocks under their direct control.
“The risk of supply disruptions is increasing.
"Supply is more and more concentrated in a handful of countries, many of which are exposed to high geopolitical risks,” said the Commission’s consultation document.
“Oil imports from producing countries often involve transport along long and vulnerable maritime and pipeline routes.
"Even the possibility of disruptions within Europe cannot be excluded.”
The United States and Japan have already begun taking similar steps by revising their own emergency stock legislation.
China and India are also planning to introduce emergency stockpiling obligations.