Australia 91% reliant on foreign oil: Research Report

A new research report by The Australia Institute has revealed the country has only increased its reliance on imported transport fuels since the federal government released its dire interim Liquid Fuel Security Report in early 2019.

The research finds that Australia’s transport fuels are highly vulnerable to international prices and supply chains and yet demand-side solutions, particularly the electrification of transportation, have been ignored.

Key Findings:

  • Australia is reliant on imports for around 91% of fuel consumption.
  • The Australian Government has budgeted over $2 billion in support payments for Australia’s two remaining oil refineries but nothing for electric vehicles.
  • The Ukrainian War and Western Europe’s (particularly Germany’s) reliance on Russian oil, gas and coal have dramatically highlighted the linking of economic security and international security.
  • Transport consumes more than three quarters of liquid fuel (73%) and more than half (54%) of Australia’s liquid fuel is consumed by road transport.
  • If all passenger vehicles in Australia were pure electric vehicles, 33% of imported oil could be replaced with domestic electricity.
    Australia only has 68 days of liquid fuel (January 2022) under the IEA’s 90 day minimum stock requirement.

“Australia has a national security problem when it comes to transport fuels. It’s worrying that Australia is almost entirely reliant on foreign oil for fuel consumption leaving it ill-prepared to deal with international disruptions,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at The Australia Institute.

“It should concern every Australian that 91% of Australia’s fuel – like petrol and diesel – is linked to imports and most of that is used for transportation.

“The federal government failed to deliver its final Liquid Fuel Security Review in 2019 and since than Australia has become more, not less fuel insecure.

“High petrol prices are already hurting Australians. The only long-term solution is getting off oil. This involves increasing fuel efficiency and transitioning to electric vehicle.

“Australia is an international laggard when it comes to fuel efficiency. Weak fuel standards and an absence of a national electric vehicle policy leave Australia among the least fuel-efficient fleets in the OECD, and far behind the rest of the world in electric vehicle uptake.

“Over a barrel: Assessing Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security”, by Liam Carter, Audrey Quicke and Alia Armistead, is attached.

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