NORA was established in 1995 under the European Communities (Minimum Stocks of Petroleum Oils) Regulations 1995 as a private limited company for the maintenance of Ireland’s strategic oil reserves. For pragmatic reasons it was set up as a subsidiary of Irish National Petroleum Corporation Limited (INPC).
In July 2001, the businesses and commercial assets of INPC were sold to Tosco Corporation (now ConocoPhillips). NORA did not form part of that transaction. It was subsequently considered appropriate that NORA should be established on a statutory basis as a private limited company independent of INPC. The Government white paper entitled “Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland” (Section 3.7.3), published in March 2007, confirmed a commitment by Government to establish NORA as an independent statutory body in 2007.
This was achieved on 1st August 2007 upon the introduction of the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007 which established NORA as a stand-alone state body under the aegis of the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.
This Act provided for:
NORA’s continued responsibility for the maintenance of strategic supplies of oil in line with the state’s stockholding obligations to the EU and International Energy Agency (IEA);
The transfer of the INPC shareholding in NORA to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and provided for the continued operation of the Agency as a private limited company under the Companies Acts;
A variable levy on disposals of petroleum products to be imposed on oil companies and oil consumers;
The furnishing to the Minister of regular returns regarding oil purchases, sales, consumption, imports and exports by oil companies, oil consumers and NORA;
The monitoring of compliance with provisions for the application of penalties in the event of failure by oil companies and oil consumers to comply with the provisions;
Revocation of the European Communities (Minimum Stocks of Petroleum Oils) Regulations 1995 and;
The alteration of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of NORA for the purpose of making them consistent with the Act.
On 1st July 2010, NORA commenced its administration of Ireland's Biofuel Obligation Scheme upon the introduction of the "Energy (Biofuel Obligation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010". This legislation was introduced to give effect to the provisions of the Council Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.