Government Does Not Take Energy Security Seriously When It Comes To Fuel Security

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has questioned the credentials of the Turnbull Government in judging others when it comes to energy security in general and fuel security in particular.

If Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg wants to accuse others of not taking the issue seriously, he needs to look at his Government’s own woeful record on fuel security.

Frydenberg says: “The Turnbull Government understands that planning and preparation are essential when it comes to our energy future.” – Ministerial Media Release September 9, 2017

Yet the Department of Environment and Energy says on its website that: “Australia is a signatory to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) International Energy Program (IEP) Treaty and participates in IEA oil market and energy emergency committees. 

“A key requirement under the Treaty is that member countries hold oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of their prior year’s daily net oil imports, and in the event of a major oil disruption, contribute to IEA collective actions by way of a stock release, demand restraint, fuel switching, or increased production or fuel sharing.

“Australia has historically relied on commercial stock levels to meet the 90 day requirement. However, due to declining domestic production and increased demand for liquid fuels, these stocks are no longer sufficient to meet the 90 day requirement. Consequently, Australia has been structurally non-compliant with the 90 day stockholding obligation since March 2012.”

MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said the Turnbull Government had allowed refineries to close and the number of Australian-crewed fuel tankers to decline to zero under its watch.

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The British Fidelity the last Australian Tanker that left our coast in 2016

“There are now no Australian-crewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation, down from 12 in the year 2000. At the same time, the number of refineries has halved. This means we are entirely at the mercy of market forces when it comes to fuel supply,” Bray said.

“A recent Senate inquiry heard that Australia's total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel comprises of two weeks of stocks at sea, 5 to 12 days of supply at refineries, 10 days of refined stock at terminals and 3 days of stocks at service stations.

“A substantial disruption in fuel supply would have serious consequences across the Australian community when it comes to delivery of food, medicine and running family cars on our roads.

“Australians would expect our Government to have a better plan and this would involve more refining here and Australian-crewed ships to carry it around the coast.”  

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into Australia's transport energy resilience and sustainability reported in June 2015. 

“Evidence to the committee suggested that Australia is almost totally reliant on liquid fuels for transport and transportation services which underpin significant economic activity, utilities and essential services,” the committee report says.

“Therefore, any substantial disruption to Australia's transport fuel supplies would have a significant impact on safety, national security, national productivity and society.”

Bray said: “This isn’t only a matter for fuel security but also national security. Unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no background checks yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast.”

Media Contact: Darrin Barnett 0428 119 703