Soundings Papers: Petroleum trade security in the Indo-Pacific region: an assessment of Australia’s crude oil and refined product import security and supply resilience

Soundings No. 7
Soundings No. 7

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Rupert Herbert-Burns

According to some assessments, by 2030 Australia could be left with no domestic refining capacity, less than 20 days’ worth of refined petroleum fuel reserves, and the reality that the Australian Defence Force will be entirely reliant on imports for its marine diesel oil, motor diesel, gasoline, jet and helicopter fuel requirements. Opinions vary amongst policymakers as to whether, on the one hand, this is a matter for urgent national energy security concern, or on the other, it is a risk that is mitigated by the dynamics, inclusiveness and free-flowing nature of the international petroleum markets. Nevertheless, what is certain is that for as long as petroleum fuels remain the mainstay of the country’s civil transportation system and its military’s means of deployment and manoeuvre, Australia will be reliant upon the complete resilience and security of its sources of refined products supply, and the extensive sea lines of communication that connect them with the country’s import terminals.