Retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn, a former deputy chief of the air force, yesterday sounded the alarm on the prospect of any broader conflict undermining Australia’s energy security, which he warned was dependent on regional refineries and oil flows from the Middle East.
Kurnell Refinery in Sydney. Closed in 2014.
“We import 91 per cent of all our transport fuels in this way. And Australia has no government-held stocks, has not told industry what stocks they have to keep and there is no plan B in case of an oil and fuel supply interruption,” he told The Weekend Australian.
“If the Middle East security situation blew up or deteriorated — for example, if Syria took off — there is no plan B in this country on how to manage it and the International Energy Agency has stated that much in its February 2018 report on Australia’s energy policy.
“It said it could not see how Australia would cope with a major oil supply disruption that would lead to market failure.
“In a major disruption … we would have major problems within two weeks.”
Australia has the lowest fuel reserves of all member countries of the IEA, which mandates that countries should hold a stock in reserve “equivalent to 90 days of net imports”. Australia has just 43 days of supply.