Oil crisis management - a Nordic outlook with focus on demand restraint measures


  • Daniel Jonsson
  • Bengt Johansson
  • Eva Mittermaier
  • Ester Veibäck

Publish date: 2016-02-22

Report number: FOI-R--4229--SE

Pages: 66

Written in: Swedish


  • energy crisis
  • oil crisis
  • rationing
  • demand restraint
  • Nordic countries


The purpose of this study is to enhance the knowledge of how demand restraint measures can be used as a tool for handling an energy crisis. Focus of the study is on oil. In the report we start the development of an analytical framework intended for analysing measures for handling energy crises. The current Swedish system is described and we also look into the systems of three Nordic neighbouring countries in order to study how their regulatory and organisational systems are structured and what the current view of oil crises management look like in these countries. Written sources as well as interviews form the basis of the analysis. The way systems for energy crisis management are constructed, are affected by for example cognitive, institutional, technical-practical and temporal aspects. The need for demand restraint measures can be affected by what the perceived threats to the energy supply are, which in turn is dependent on e.g. the historical experiences. Institutional factors such as regulations and norms are also important. The structure of the energy system, both regarding the dependence on various energy sources, its reliability, and its flexibility, also affects the needs and the conditions for conducting demand restraint measures, e.g. rationing. The studied countries Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark are different in several ways. While Norway and Denmark are net oil exporters, Sweden and Finland are importers of significant amounts of oil from e.g. Russia. The requirements from the IEA on Norway and Denmark are therefore lower and the need for demand restraint measures seems of little urgency in these countries. Due to the expectations from the EU and the IEA there is nevertheless a certain pressure on Denmark to develop plans for these kind of measures. Finland, on the other hand, has a well-developed system for energy crisis management with larger oil stocks than the other Nordic countries, a well-developed system for cooperation with the petroleum industry and an existing framework for fuel rationing, although in need for an update. In all the studied countries the release of stocks is regarded as the primary measure for handling an energy crisis in case markets cannot handle it. In addition there are both light-handed and heavy-handed measures available. Fuel rationing belongs to these heavy-handed measures, an option that in all countries are seen as a measure of last resort for long-lasting major disturbances. While both Finland and Sweden intend to modernise their systems for fuel rationing, there are no such plans in Denmark, nor in Norway. In Norway, on the contrary, a rather well-developed rationing systems has been decommissioned. Even though comprehensive plans for demand restraint measures are lacking, except for Finland, both Denmark and Sweden have conducted analyses that estimates the effects of available measures. The Swedish analysis also include how the measures fit into existing regulations. In all countries, oil companies are expected to play important roles in energy crisis management and special organisations for this exist. In some of the countries the role of these organisations are regulated by law. It will, according to the interview respondents, be a major challenge for the decision maker to determine the right time for implementing demand restraint measures, including fuel rationing. These measures, especially fuel rationing, would imply major interventions in markets and will require significant administrative resources. A desire for increased cooperation among Nordic countries was expressed during the interviews as measures in one country easily spill over to the neighbouring countries. Such cooperation does not, however, necessarily mean that the countries' systems have to look exactly the same, as differences could be motivated by different contexts. In this pre-study, a number of interesting areas for future research was identified. One example of this is how the re-started planning for civil defence in Sweden could interact with energy crisis planning. Another field concerns whether and how a deteriorating security policy situation would have impact on energy crisis management planning. Furthermore, scenario-based research on robust strategies regarding demand restraint measures and energy crisis management in general is suggested.