On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency decided to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves as a step toward stabilizing global oil markets, which have been rattled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The action was the first such move by the 31 IEA member states since 2011, when they released 60 million barrels in response to the disruption caused by Libya’s civil war. Japan is an IEA member and has its own oil reserves, most of which are located at domestic facilities.

What is the IEA and the policies for member countries regarding their oil reserves?

The IEA was formed in 1974, following the 1973-74 Middle East oil crisis, when industrialized countries like Japan that relied heavily on oil imports realized they were ill prepared to deal with an oil embargo by top producers, which sent prices soaring. Japan was one of the founding members, along with the United States, Canada, Turkey, the United Kingdom, West Germany and other European countries.