International Energy Agency mandate expanded to include critical minerals

by Felix von Geyer

The rush to transition away from Russian oil and gas in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, fuelled member countries to “widen the mandate” of the Paris-based International Energy Agency to include critical minerals, Fatih Birol the IEA Executive Director said in a press conference Thursday.

The announcement came during a joint press conference with US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm following a two-day Ministerial meeting in Paris that Birol described as “the best ministerial meeting we ever had,” underlining that he was “impressed by the unity [of what] we can do together as the IEA family.”

The meeting, according to Birol had “one single target… to radically reduce Russian imports” and he underlined that the release of 63 million barrels of oil from member countries’ strategic reserves represented only four percent of total reserves.

Granholm said of the IEA member countries that: “Everyone united in condemning Putin’s war, but were united in how to increase supply.” Granholm added during questions that she would leave any announcements on US liquefied natural gas exports to US President Joe Biden.

Granholm highlighted that the IEA member countries were also united in their need to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels “so that everyone who has dependence [on Russian oil and gas] has somewhere to turn.”

As renewable energies and energy storage require the mining of many critical minerals or Rare Earth Elements (REEs), the IEA has subsequently been mandated during the meeting to add critical minerals to its scope of research in helping member countries achieve net zero targets.

More to follow as information becomes available