Guest essay by Eric Worrall
When green virtue signalling goes bad.
Australia looks to access US fuel reserves to shore up supplies amid Persian Gulf tensions
By political reporter Jane Norman
Australia is eyeing off the United States’ tightly guarded fuel reserve as it seeks to overcome having less than a third of the stocks it should.
- Australia has less than a third of the fuel supplies it is required to under an international agreements
- Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Coalition was eyeing off America’s tightly guarded reserves
- It comes as Australia considers sending vessels to the Persian Gulf amid escalating tension
It comes as Australia contemplates sending vessels to the oil-rich Persian Gulf amid escalating tension on the Strait of Hormuz.
Australia holds just 28 days’ worth of fuel imports, well below the 90-day minimum required under international agreements.
Rather than buying and storing the required amount of petroleum domestically, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Australia was seeking to access America’s emergency supplies.
“The Government is in the early stages of very constructive discussions with the United States about the potential to access their strategic petroleum reserve, which would greatly boost our own stocks and also the flexibility of supply,” she said.
It is unclear how much it would cost Australia to tap into the US reserve, but Energy Minister Angus Taylor said it would be cheaper than creating a “physical” reserve here.
“The whole point of this is to minimise costs,” he said.
Critics of this approach argue economics should not be the sole consideration when it comes to national security.
Australia’s four oil refineries produce about half of the country’s transport needs, which means the other half comes via shipments from the Middle East and Asia.
I must say its awfully nice of the USA to consider letting Australia freeload off your strategic reserves. But this ridiculous situation would likely never have arisen if politicians hadn’t made such a mess of Australia’s domestic energy policy.
Australia has substantial energy reserves. But they are mostly still in the ground, and likely to stay there for the foreseeable future; Australia’s hardline green state governments have made exploration and development of new fields very difficult.
South Australia recently blew up their last coal plant. The plant was still viable, but its existence offended South Australian politicians. Other coal plants are scheduled for closure, and are not being replaced. States are increasingly relying on gas and “emergency” diesel generators for electricity when the solar panels and wind farms fall to deliver.
Australia is woefully under resourced when it comes to domestic refining capacity, so even if we started pumping more oil and building new refineries, it would take years to build enough domestic refining capacity to process the additional oil.
I might be Australian but I’m disgusted at the recklessness of our politicians, and their arrogant assumption the USA is always ready to ride to our rescue and have your generosity abused, because our politicians think expecting the USA to foot the bill of maintaining strategic reserves and not pass on the cost is an acceptable way to treat an ally.
Update (EW): Updated some wording for clarity.
Update (EW): Added John Tillman’s link to Australia’s substantial energy reserves
Correction (EW): David Middleton points out the substantial energy reserves article I quoted was PR puff from a failed resource company. However there are substantial resources. From the Australian government;
Crude Oil, Condensate and Liquified Petroleum GasRead more: https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy/basics
Australia’s crude oil resources, located mostly in the Carnarvon and Gippsland basins, are only small by world standards but are boosted by substantial condensate and LPG resources associated with the major largely undeveloped gas fields in the Carnarvon, Browse and Bonaparte basins off the northwest coast of Western Australia. A number of sedimentary basins remain to be assessed. Australia also has significant oil shale resources, especially near Gladstone, Queensland that could provide additional liquid fuels if developed.