In the future, the federal government wants to maintain a strategic reserve not only of petroleum, but also of batteries and other raw materials. Since the oil crisis in the 1970s, when Arab oil-producing countries artificially inflated Western prices, petroleum’s potential to mitigate geopolitical risks has diminished.
“We know from the Covid crisis that it is very important to have stock of certain strategic items in your own country,” Federal Minister of Energy Tinne Van Der Straeten (Green) told Belga during a visit to Volvo Ghent. “The first thing we are going to do now is investigate for Belgium what industry we have, what needs we have and what stocks we need to build up.”
Europe obliges Belgium – like other member states – to maintain a 90-day strategic oil supply, which in our country represents a petroleum stock of more than 2 billion euros. This is managed by the Apetra agency. Van der Straeten wants a new composition of the strategic reserve and therefore has a study carried out that will analyze which raw materials the Belgian economy may lack in the event of international problems.
The role of fuel will decrease in the coming decades, partly due to the increasing popularity of electric vehicles. “Due to the energy transition, we will use less and less oil. So we also have to rethink our stocks.”
Lithium, nickel and cobalt
“We no longer need supplies of oil, but we may need supplies of strategic earth metals,” it said. This concerns lithium, nickel and cobalt. When war or other geopolitical problems threaten our economy in the future, it will mainly be these types of minerals that provide our country with some business security. “But hydrogen, for example, is also a question.”
The study must also take into account the recycling capacity of our country. “Earth metals are, on the one hand, extracted in mines. But they are also recovered and recycled. We have a great champion in recycling in our country, Umicore. The study will look at what comes in, what is recycled and what reserve we need.”
The bill has been discussed within the Council of Ministers and will soon be presented in the House of Representatives Energy Committee.
What can the historic discovery of 1 million tons of rare earth elements mean for us? (+)
After the historic discovery in Sweden: “There are also deposits of earth metals in our Ardennes” (+)
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