Our Coast. Our Fuel. Our Security.
With the closure of Caltex's Kurnell refinery and Shell's Clyde refinery in Sydney and planned closures by BP in Brisbane, Australia now imports 91 per cent of its petroleum by foreign tankers – up from 60 per cent in 2000. Yet Australia has no law requiring companies to keep even the minimum fuel reserves that the International Energy Agency requires in the country, so the oil companies don’t bother.
There are now no Australian crewed tankers that operate domestically supplying the needs of cities and communities since the removal of the last tanker, British Fidelity. You can view the MUA's senate submission here. The union also supports the NRMA's Transport Energy Plan for Australia, this can be viewed here.
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report into Australia's transport energy resilience and sustainability was tabled 25 June 2015 (view it here). This report found that Australia’s fuel security measures were not adequate and recommended the following:
Recommendation 3: The committee recommends that the Australian Government develop and publish a comprehensive Transport Energy Plan directed to achieving a secure, affordable and sustainable transport energy supply. The plan should be developed following a public consultation process. Where appropriate, the plan should set targets for the secure supply of Australia's transport energy.
Australia is already down to four refineries and two Australian-crewed vessels carrying fuel around our coast, compared to eight refineries and 11 vessels in 1996. Australian refining and Australian shipping remain a vital part of ensuring Australia’s fuel security into the future and unless the Government does something, we are forecast to have no refineries and no Australian shipping.
This places Australia completely at the mercy of foreign markets and we would have no insurance policy against any major supply shock – whether it be from a refinery fire in Singapore, a terrorist or piracy attack in the Straits of Malacca, or environmental tragedy on the Great Barrier Reef.
The crew of the Tandara Spirit wrote this open letter shortly before sailing the ship out of Port Phillip Bay en route to Singapore:
The MUA is furious at multi-billion dollar Swiss energy company Vitol’s decision to sack members working on-board the product tanker Tandara Spirit.
Vitol (also known as Viva Energy) is a private $300 billion oil trading company that bought Shell's downstream business in Australia for $2.9 billion three months ago. Vitol boast that they have more than 200 ships at sea at any one time. Yet as soon as they bought into the Australian petroleum business, they are stealthily sacking Australian crew and undermining Australian fuel security.
Al Qaeda has urged jihadists to attack oil tankers in two maritime hotspots that supply Australia with up to 70 per cent of its petrol, raising a concern over the nation's near-complete reliance on imported fuel.
| Tanker British Fidelity at Port Adelaide. Photo: Trevor Powell