The government says the ban, which won’t take effect until shipments already on their way arrive, won’t risk fuel security
Australia has joined major allies including the US and the UK and banned imports of Russian oil, but only after shipments already ordered and paid for arrive.
While Australia is not a major importer of Russian energy products, the coordinated efforts “will collectively curtail Russia’s revenue and ability to finance Russian president Vladimir Putin’s unjustified war against Ukraine”, a spokesperson for the foreign minister, Marise Payne, said on Friday afternoon.
With petrol prices soaring past $2 a litre in major cities, the government was keen to stress the decision did not risk Australia’s fuel security.
“Australia has diverse and resilient oil supply chains, and adequate fuel supplies,” the spokesperson said, adding the government was “closely monitoring global oil and energy markets and are working with our allies and the International Energy Agency to ensure ongoing supply security”.
The government will not impose the ban – which covers crude, refined petroleum products, gas and coal – for 45 days. That delay would allow the two main local refiners Viva Energy and Ampol to take deliveries of Russian crude that had already been ordered and paid for.
Both Viva Energy and Ampol said earlier this week they had bought two Russian-origin crude cargoes prior to the conflict. The shipments were due to arrive in Australia over the next two months.
The companies declined to say whether the cargoes were being shared, or if there were four in total. Guardian Australia also sought a response about the ban on imports.
Viva Energy said it was “appalled by events unfolding in Ukraine and extends its sympathies to the innocent people affected by this terrible conflict”, and that it had stopping buying Russian crude.
“Viva Energy has explored options to dispose of these cargoes, but there are no credible purchasers in the current market and without these supplies the company faces gaps in its refining program and potential fuel shortages,” a Viva spokesperson said prior to the government’s announcement. “These cargoes have been purchased from international oil companies, rather than from Russian entities.”
Ampol said it condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and supported international efforts “against Russia in support of Ukraine and its people”. It too had ceased buying Russian crude oil or products since the conflict began, and “will not enter into any further contracts”.
Ampol said it had two Russian cargoes “in our current planned supply chains” that would be “discharged” by the end of April. The firm’s Lytton refinery in Brisbane typically sourced crude from south-east Asia, Africa, North America and the Middle East, the company said in a statement.
The government spokesperson said Australia strongly supported earlier announcements by the US president, Joe Biden, and the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, that they would impose a ban. “We will continue to coordinate closely with these and other partners to impose the highest economic costs on Russia for its actions, including by continuing to review our sanctions and expand them where appropriate,” the spokesperson said.
According to government statistics, Australia last year imported 147 megalitres of crude from Russia, or just 1.2% of total oil imports at a cost of $73.9m.
Extracted in full from: Australia to join US and UK in banning Russian oil imports | Australia news | The Guardian