THE NT is shaping up as a key player in Australia’s long-term fuel security, with the jurisdiction poised to take advantage of a new $200m Federal Government grant program to build 321 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of storage infrastructure.

It’s hoped the fuel security package, which includes legislative reform and support for the refinery sector, will also secure jobs in industries like agriculture and mining while ensuring prices at the bowser remain some of the lowest among developed nations.

The Federal Government will today announce, after initial talks with industry players, that the upcoming budget will include a $200m grant program to build an additional 780 megalitres of onshore diesel storage in partnership with state and territory governments or the private sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s fuel security was essential for national security.

“Fuel security underpins our entire economy.,” he said.

“Like all sectors of the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on Australia’s fuel industry.

The NT’s only domestic fuel storage site is located at East Arm, pictured. Picture: The Australian
The NT’s only domestic fuel storage site is located at East Arm, pictured. Picture: The Australian

“The events of 2020 have reminded us that we cannot be complacent. We need a sovereign fuel supply to shield us from potential shocks in the future.”

The program, which is set to open in early 2021, will focus on projects in “strategic regional locations”, connected to refineries and have connections to existing fuel infrastructure.

An initial call to the market in April to see where this could happen yielded 61 submissions, with at least seven noting interest in the Northern Territory, which has one domestic fuel storage site, located at East Arm.

The government expects construction of the fuel storage facilities nationwide to create 950 jobs, along with 75 new ongoing jobs, many in regional areas.

Legislative changes to support the fuel refinery sector are also in the works, with the federal government stipulating the trade off is getting refinery companies to commit to staying in Australia to secure jobs.

The program is separate to the federal government’s intention to establish a multimillion-dollar US-funded, commercially-operated strategic military fuel reserve in Darwin.

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