Reserves little changed in four years as energy minister says there is no room for complacency.

After years of concern and worrying reports on the stat of the nation’s fuel reserves, the federal government is to undertake a review.

Reserves of diesel, petrol, crude oil and aviation gas are at around three weeks each at present, while LPG is at 59 days.

Of minor solace to critics of the government’s present reserves approach is that, as of June 2014, Australia had 30 days’ worth of LPG in storage, 19 days of petrol, 17 days of avgas and 12 days of diesel.

The situation then was an impetus for the gas-production industry to push for plentiful local reserves to be used as an alternative to imported diesel.

It also led to a call from trucking, truck and engine markers and motoring and energy organisations, amongst others, to demand a national transport energy plan.

The agitation prompted an Energy White Paper to be published in 2015. But that report and the government downplayed the long-running agreement with the International Energy Agency (IEA) for a 90-day reserve was unnecessary, given the amount of fuel in tankers at sea at any given time.

That argument and the White Paper were cast as naive and complacent by critics, not least given the amount other countries held in reserve.

Now, federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg has ordered a fuel security review.

“The assessment is the prudent and proper thing to do to make sure we aren’t complacent,” Frydenberg says.

“It should not be construed as Australia having a fuel security problem.

“The comprehensive assessment will look at how fuel is supplied and used in Australia, including our resilience to withstand disruptions both overseas and in Australia.

“We have not experienced a significant disruption to fuels supplies since the OPEC oil crises in the 1970s, but there is no room to be complacent.

“Australia’s liquid fuel supply increasingly depends on overseas sources and relies on market forces to maintain reliability and affordability.

“The assessment will identify whether the government should take further steps to ensure Austraila’s domestic fuel supply is reliable.”

The assessment also helps inform Australia’s plan to return to compliance with the IEA obligations by 2026.

It is due to be completed by the end of the calendar and contribute to a broader consideration of energy security across liquid fuel, electricity and gas supplies in the National Energy Security Assessment (NESA) by mid-2019.

Extracted from Fully Loaded.

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