Dependency on imports constitutes a fact of life in the modern global economy. It is inescapable; no advanced industrialized state has ready access to all the resources it needs domestically. Even so, import dependence seldom commands political attention in times of stable supply and absence of price volatility. But whenever the availability of key resources appears threatened, it is put front and center on the political agenda. A prospective failure in the raw materials supply conjures up the spectacle of debilitating shortages with disastrous consequences for economic growth and military capabilities. The political severity of oil supply crises become particularly acute since oil is often considered to be even more important than other critical, high-demand resources, constituting the very lifeblood of modern society (Huber, 2013; LeMenager, 2014; Beaubouef, 2006). Loss of oil imports invokes horror as an existential threat to a modern consumerist culture that praises individual mobility and malleability in industrial products. The stakes are high for all affected parties if external oil supplies are severed and the government may react by putting conservation measures in place, such as rationing and ‘car-free Sundays’. Meanwhile the oil companies are exposed to critical scrutiny and harsh censure for padding their profits in times of crisis (Norsk Esso, 1974). So how does an industrialized state seek to protect itself against that eventuality? Already prior to the First World War oil supply security was recognized as a problem for reasons that would ring familiar today. A critical shortfall of physical stocks could be brought about by deliberate action or market failure, substitution was costly, and any shortages would have knock-on effects on the wider industrial economy (Royal Commission, 1905, pp. 194–197). But while oil consumption grew relentlessly in the following half century, oil supply security only started receiving serious academic scrutiny in the 1960s (Lubell, 1960). The oil crises of the 1970s generated both a great demand for and a robust supply of, academic research on energy security (Cherp and Jewell, 2014). The oil shocks also gave birth to the current system tasked with handling major supply disruptions of oil, coordinated through the International Energy Agency (IEA), established in 1974. Its core mechanism was a network of oil stockpiles for emergency sharing among IEA members, among which the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve was and remains the most significant (Yergin, 2006; Toner, 1987; International Energy Agency, 2014).