Australia signs fuel security arrangement with US
- 12 March 2020
It has recently been announced that the Australian Federal Government has signed a new agreement with the United States to increase Australia’s emergency fuel reserve.
For some years, Australia has stocked well below the average needed in the event of major global disruption. While it’s internationally mandated to ensure 90 days of fuel in emergencies, Australia in 2019 could only ensure 18 days of petrol and 22 days of diesel fuel in the national reserve. In 2020, the amount of fuel in the reserve is still under 30 days.
Under the new arrangement Australia will lease space in the US Strategic Petroleum Reservice to store and access Australian-owned oil in a global emergency.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor flew out to the US last week to sign the new arrangement with US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.
“This landmark Australia-US Arrangement represents our joint commitment to maintaining fuel security and improving Australia’s resilience, as well as strengthening the close bonds between our two great nations,” said Taylor.
The deal has not been without criticism, with many truck and car drivers arguing that the stockpiles should be based in Australia, rather than the US.
“It would not provide security for the Australian economy if there is a disruption to international supply chains,” the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, said last year.
Once the deal was signed, Mr Crouch released a statement that the amount of time it would take to transport those emergency stocks could put Australia at great risk.
“Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has previously stated that it could take up to 40 days for fuel to make its way from the US to Australia. That’s up to 16 days that Australia would be brought to a standstill with no access to fuel,” Mr Crouch said on the ATA website.
The ATA has been campaign for better fuel security since 2014 and amidst the fuel shortage inquiries last year, they submitted a detailed proposal to the liquid security review, emphasising the governments unrealistic expectations about what would happen during a fuel shortage emergency.
“Without trucks and the fuel that powers them, Australia stops. As most commodities produced or consumed in Australia are delivered by road, no fuel means supermarkets would go empty, medicines wouldn’t get delivered and rubbish bins wouldn’t get emptied,” Mr Crouch said.