Australia ill-equipped for fuel security crisis: time for solution

Australia faces significant risks to national security, energy security and climate change mitigation, due to a heavy reliance on imported oil and access to only a limited amount of fuel at any one time, according to new analysis from the Australia Institute.

The new research finds that Australia is unprepared to deal with any potential fuel security crisis.

Key findings:

  • 90 per cent of the fuel consumed in Australia is derived from oil sourced outside of Australia.
  • In FY2018 Australia had on average access to 20 days’ worth of fuel. The emergency powers to ration fuel stocks would take up to three weeks to be implemented.
  • Australia’s oil production has already peaked and is likely to continue to decline.
  • Addressing Australia’s fuel security risks requires reducing oil use through increased fuel efficiency and transition to non-oil based transport.
  • Electric vehicle uptake increases transport energy security by replacing imported fuel with domestically produced electricity.

“Last year Australia had access to only 20 days-worth of liquid fuel, but the emergency powers to ration fuel stocks take up to 3 weeks to be implemented. This means that by the time the rationing powers come into force, there may not be any fuel left to ration,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“90% of Australia’s fuel – like petrol and diesel – is sourced from overseas, and Australia only has about 20 days of fuel in reserve. Given Australia is clearly not equipped to deal with a liquid fuel security crisis, we strongly support a review of the Liquid Fuel emergency Act.

“Australia Institute research makes it clear that producing more oil in Australia is not the answer to the fuel security problem. Australia’s oil production has already peaked and there is great uncertainty surrounding the scale, quality and viability of oil production in prospective resources.

“Addressing Australia’s fuel security risks requires a reduction in oil use.  This involves increasing fuel efficiency and transitioning to non-oil energy sources through electric vehicle targets and fuel efficiency standards.

“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.”

 The Submission: Liquid Fuel Security Review, by Tom Swann, Senior Researcher Climate & Energy Program at The Australia Institute, is attached.

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