Assessment of U.S. Participation in the IEA Fourth Test of Its Emergency Sharing Allocation System

Gao ID: NSIAD-84-4 October 13, 1983

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. participation in the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Fourth Emergency Sharing Allocation System Test (AST-4). The test simulated a major oil disruption and involved all 21 IEA member countries. Within the United States, the Departments of Energy (DOE) and State, oil importing companies, other industrial firms, and representatives from 10 States were among the active participants.

GAO found that AST-4 provided useful training to government, industry, and IEA Secretariat personnel. AST-4 also showed that the newly acquired IEA computer system and associated programs could facilitate the processing of oil company voluntary offers in an emergency. A number of key concerns were indicated, including: (1) difficulties that the United States might face both in relying exclusively on market forces to fulfill its international obligations and in coping with the economic impacts of a major oil shortage; (2) management problems at the executive branch level on important test-related issues; and (3) assumptions and decisions made under test conditions not reflecting realities experienced in prior emergencies.

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