EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson called the emergency meeting to discuss potential issues should the supply chain disruptions caused by the conflict become significant enough to cause diesel supply shortages, such as strikes and long queues for diesel at gas stations. (Related: Oil prices surge following large-scale clashes between Israel and Palestine.)
The main concern of Simson and the other EU leaders is that the current conflict could spiral out of control and escalate into a broader, regional war. "Oil is important. Not enough diesel could lead to strikes. We don't want our trucks queuing up for diesel," said one EU official who spoke with Reuters.
"Is this a 1973 moment or not?" the official added, referring to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This war between Israel and Egypt and Syria – which were supported by a coalition of Arab and communist nations who sent expeditionary forces – forced the Eastern-aligned Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to slap a massive oil embargo against Israel and its Western allies, triggering fuel shortages worldwide.
Simson met with other members of the EU's oil coordination group and concluded that the risks of bloc-wide shortages are much lower than they were in 1973, as Europe now only relies on oil for about 30 percent of its energy mix. But these same officials did warn that a major point of concern is the fact that one of the continent's top three suppliers of oil is Saudi Arabia.
"A possible crisis would have an immediate impact on oil price but it's less of a security of supply risk, though the market is very tight because of OPEC+ cuts, tightness should ease in 2024," said one EU official.
"The Middle East route is still of significant importance for Europe," added the official, who noted that around 20 million barrels of oil per day leave the Gulf States through the Straight of Hormuz, dangerously close to Iran and which Iran has also acted aggressively in the past.
Western powers are worried that an escalation of the conflict in Gaza could lead to Iran attempting to blockade or at the very least increase the dangers of sailing through the strait which, at its narrowest point, can be as small as 24 miles.
Nevertheless, EU officials noted that they are making sure the bloc is prepared for disaster, with the oil coordination group making sure the bloc's members abide by an EU directive to have emergency oil stocks equivalent to 90 days of net imports or 61 days of consumption.
While this will make sure that the EU can survive short-term disruptions to crude oil supply, Europe remains vulnerable when it comes to diesel and gas oil. More than 50 percent of the bloc's goods transportation relies on diesel-fueled trucks. Gasoil, meanwhile, is used in heating, particularly since the loss of Russian gas imports.
Learn more about the world's energy situation at NewEnergyReport.com.
Watch this clip of Iraqis protesting against Israel's indiscriminate killing of Palestinians by blocking Iraqi oil trucks from making it to Israel through Jordan.