According to a government review, Australia has just 27 days worth of petrol in reserve as Saudi Arabia scrambles to restore its oil production in the wake of last week’s drone attack. Australia has 23 days of jet fuel, 21 days worth diesel and 31 days worth crude oil. These figures represent the number of days Australia stocks would last under normal circumstances, but they do not take into account the fuel that is already on the way to the fuel stations in the tanker ships to Australia.
At the same time it also excludes the crude oil that could be refined into products in Australia. The country’s reserves would likely dry up after a week if there was a major disruption to supply.
Australia’s fuel reserves are all about ‘just-in-time’ logistics delivery. It makes economic sense, but it’s not very resilient. Australia is currently dependent on imports for more than 90% of its fuel needs. Crude oil comes from the Middle East and is processed at refineries in South Korea, China and Singapore. It is then shipped to Australia as diesel, aviation fuel and petrol.
Mr Frydenberg says, “Australia’s reliance on imported fuel has increased in the last 10 years because three of Australia’s seven domestic refineries have closed and our domestic oil production has declined by a third as existing fields become exhausted.” Australia would not be able to “ramp up a pipeline” from elsewhere as they are literally on an island and are therefore entirely dependent on maritime supply.