A Senate committee has called for a national transport energy plan and transport fuel supply risk assessment following hearings into the country’s transport energy resilience and sustainability.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee also wants all fuel supply companies to report their fuel stocks to the Department of Industry and Science on a monthly basis.

“The plan should be developed following a public consultation process,” the recommendations say.

“Where appropriate, the plan should set targets for the secure supply of Australia’s transport energy.”

It adds that the transport energy plan “should consider all energy sources including that of alternative fuels”.

The assessment should “consider the vulnerabilities in Australia’s fuel supply to possible disruptions resulting from military actions, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, industrial accidents and financial and other structural dislocation.

“Any other external or domestic circumstance that could interfere with Australia’s fuel supply should also be considered.”

While welcoming the federal government’s commitment to meet Australia’s 90 day stockholding obligation to the International Energy Authority (IEA) and concerned at it could be half that by 2024, the committee stopped short of advocating a national emergency reserve.

The findings are hailed as a vindication of call made by a National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA)-ledalliance of 26 organisations, including Gas Energy Australia, late last year.

The NRMA gave the effort impetus early last year with an influential report on the issue.

Gas Energy Australia’s CEO Mike Carmody reiterated its point to the committee that such a plan was needed to stop the country from becoming 100 per cent dependent on imported liquid fuel.

“Using cleaner, cheaper Australian gas is a low cost way to improve Australia’s fuel security through diversifying the fuel mix and displacing the use of foreign fuel,” Carmody says.

“Every 10 per cent substitution of imported diesel by Australian gas also saves $870 million in import costs.

“As such, Australian LPG, LNG and CNG should play a crucial role in the development of a Transport Energy Plan.”

NRMA president Kyle Loades says the Senate’s decision to call on the Federal Government to adopt and implement these measures could not have come sooner.

“The NRMA has worked tirelessly to expose the extent to which Australia’s fuel security has deteriorated, publishing three reports over the past two years,” Loades said.

“Late last year, we called on the Government to prepare a comprehensive transport energy plan to ensure the safety, wellbeing and prosperity of all Australians is protected in the event of disruption to national fuel supplies, and I’m pleased to see the Senate now agrees.

“Without a comprehensive plan our economy will suffer, while we continue to grow more reliant on oil imported from volatile regions of the world.

“Australia’s fuel security can be improved by diversifying to alternate forms of transport energy and encouraging improved fuel economy.”

Extracted in full from Australasian Transport News.