International Energy Agency:

Assessment of U.S. Participation in the Fifth Allocation System Test

NSIAD-87-159BR: Published: May 29, 1987. Publicly Released: Jun 2, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. participation in the most recent test of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) emergency oil sharing system (AST-5), focusing on: (1) how members designed the test and how well it met its objectives; (2) U.S. participation and performance; and (3) the extent to which AST-5 and U.S. participation in it meaningfully exercised U.S. energy emergency preparedness plans and provided useful training.

GAO noted that: (1) the IEA Secretariat, member countries, and an industry advisory board designed AST-5, with the final design focusing on training personnel in the system's essential international procedures; (2) nearly all participants concluded that the test met its training objectives; and (3) participants identified several problems, including the fact that large, unexplained discrepancies remained in supply data submitted by individual trading partners and some companies offered oil which was unusable by the intended recipient. GAO found that the United States: (1) opposed policy and program reviews in AST-5; (2) approved proposals to extend the scope in several areas; (3) tried to have IEA realistically test its data reporting capabilities for the first time; (4) performed well during the test, but its requirement that oil companies volunteer an enormous volume of oil for redistribution caused problems, since IEA received too much oil to allocate; and (5) impeded IEA oil reallocation because it applied a more restrictive stock-building rule on oil companies than the IEA-wide standard. GAO also found that: (1) AST-5 did not fully exercise key elements of U.S. energy emergency plans, since the United States did not simulate economic response measures, mandatory supply orders, or public information programs; (2) the United States should have tested some domestic policies and programs, despite its decision that testing them was impractical; and (3) U.S. participants received training in IEA administrative and operational procedures.

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