APETRA is a public limited company with social goal, that manages the strategic oil stocks that Belgium needs to maintain.
APETRA serves two goals:
- to guarantee the security of oil supply of Belgium;
- to ensure that Belgium meets its international obligations concerning the maintenance of a minimum reserve of crude oil and oil products.
APETRA is established by the Law of 26th january 2006 (see here for the unofficial English translation ) with the Federal State as sole shareholder. The Law imposes strict quality and availability criteria upon the strategic oil stocks.It equally imposes frequent inspections and contains sanctions. It forms the legal backbone of APETRA and fixes its institutional clauses.
APETRA started on 1st April 2007 and is since 1st April 2012 the sole manager of the Belgian strategic stocks. How much strategic reserves APETRA annually manages depends of two elements:
- the Belgian net imports (import - export - international bunkers - stocks changes) of oil products in the previous year, and
- the amount of stocks still managed by the larger Belgian oil companies (this has been reduced to zero since 1/4/2012)
The 2018 national stockholding obligation amounts to some 4,4 million tons crude oil-equivalent.
These stocks consist mainly of stocks owned by APETRA and are stored in storage facilities and underground salt caverns in Belgium and the neighbouring countries. The repatriation of these stocks located abroad is guaranteed by treaties between Belgium and the other EU Member states. The stocks are all risk insured.
To a limited extent the compulsory stocks equally consist of stocks from the oil industry which APETRA reserves by means of ticket contracts. These contracts give APETRA in case of a crisis the right to buy the underlying oil products.
For the inspection of its storage facilities and the control of the quality, quantity and permanent presence of the strategic oil stocks the agency works with certified inspection companies.
The strategic stocks are our nest egg in case of an oil crisis. They are part of the range of emergency instruments that the government can utilise when a national supply crisis should occur. They can also be employed at the demand of the international community for the benefit of other member states of the European Union or the International Energy Agency. APETRA's role in that case is to inject the stocks that it manages as highly in the distribution chain as possible.