Doomsday warning on fuel stock

28 02 2013

The situation is even more dire that I suspected! Looks like Adelaide cannot expect much help from other states when our even smaller fuel stock runs dry. –Michael Lardelli

Note that the only way this article could get published in the Australian is if population was not mentioned, and the scenario was called a “doomsday” one.

In fact this looming disaster should be no news. The last Inter-generational Report warned that our oil would be gone by 2020, just as the world’s diminishing oil is expecting to reach $200 a barrel.  The media took almost zero interest.

It is of course not impossible to swap minerals like iron ore for oil imports,  provided someone is still selling oil.  But they’ll need to be selling lots of it.

And very large quantities of the oil we buy will have to go on digging and processing and transporting the ores we hope to sell in return.


Mark O’Connor


Doomsday warning on fuel stock

  • by: Cameron Stewart
  • From: The Australian  (now behind a paywall…)
  • February 28, 2013 12:00AM

AUSTRALIA would grind to a halt within three weeks with almost no deliveries of food or medicine if its overseas oil and fuel supplies were cut off.

An NRMA-commissioned report on the nation’s liquid fuel security released today says the government has allowed the country to become too dependent on foreign supply of liquid fuels.

It says there are no coherent contingency plans to deal with the devastating impact of any cut to overseas supply because of war, economic turmoil or natural disasters, instead adopting a “she’ll be right” approach.

The report, written by retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn, finds that 85 per cent of transport fuel comes from overseas crude oil or imported fuel.

This dependency on overseas oil and fuel has increased steadily during the past three decades and will continue to rise as local refinery capacity decreases.

“Almost 95 per cent of our road transport network relies on oil and it would be crippled within weeks if Australia’s liquid fuel supply was disrupted,” NRMA Motoring and Services director Graham Blight said. “We have about three weeks’ worth of fuel at our disposal before the country would come to a standstill.”

The report finds that if overseas oil and fuel supplies are cut, the lack of adequate transport will see dry shops run out of chilled, frozen and dry food within seven to nine days; chemists will run out of medicine within a week, hospitals within three days and fuel supplies for motorists will be exhausted in three days.

The report says reliance on overseas supplies of liquid fuel will only grow with the expected loss of 28 per cent of Australia’s oil refinery capacity by 2014 following the planned closure of Sydney’s Clyde and Kurnell refineries.

Despite the report’s findings, the government has not previously viewed fuel security as a major concern because it says Australia will always have access to global markets for liquid fuel.

“The 2011 National Energy Security Assessment found that a significant reduction in refining capacity is not expected to cause fuel security problems, given our access to well-functioning global markets that can provide adequate and reliable supply,” the report notes.

But the report finds the government’s attitude towards fuel security is complacent and Australia would “not be the first country” in history to get such an important assumption wrong . . . The very small consumption stockholdings of oil and liquid fuels in Australia, combined with what appears to be a narrow assessment of our fuel supply chain vulnerabilities, does not provide much confidence that the strategic risks to our fuel supply chain are well understood and mitigated by our nation’s leaders, the business community or the population at large,” the report says.

The NRMA’s Mr Blight said in light of the findings, the government should bring forward its planned 2014 assessment of liquid fuel vulnerability.

He said a fuel security plan was needed to reduce dependence on overseas fuel supplies by sourcing local supplies and safeguarding local refining capacities.

Australia also needed to develop non-oil-based alternatives such as LPG and electric vehicles, he added.



3 responses

28 02 2013
Greg Bell

What’s a normal reserve? For us, and for other countries? Inventory is “idle capital” so most of our systems work to reduce it.

I’ve thought of converting a vehicle to LPG or electric, but can you imagine how quickly that’d be “liberated” from you in the event of a liquid fuel emergency?

1 03 2013

Only skimmed it, but LOL! “Allowed” to become too dependant on foreign supply? Oh, I suppose fracking will make us “energy independent” in just the same way it’s making the US “energy independent”.

As for electric cars, that one deserves a good old fashioned ROFL! I used to be an electric car head until I realised there’s not enough power to go around. The only way to switch the global motor vehicle fleet to electric is if the fleet is a few orders of magnitude smaller. You’d probably need an equal reduction in the global population to go along with that and if that happens, driving a shiny Nissan Leaf ain’t gonna be high on your list of things to give a shit about.

At this stage there is no alternative to liquid hydrocarbons as a transport fuel. There’s nothing waiting in the wings to take over either. The article’s premise that we can trade mineral resources for oil (never mind the horrendous net loss that would produce) makes as much sense as the dickheads digging up and/or fracking arable land for coal/CSG instead of growing food.

1 03 2013

Very much depending on whether TSHTF first, what source of renewable energy we end up using and how good it is, I was thinking of converting the ute to electric once established in Tassie….. (see the bottom of

Re Greg’s assertion of “liberating” the vehicle from my grasp, I think there’s a fair chance that a town like Geeveston would appreciate a community ute. I’d happily share it in exchange for labour…. Huonville is just 23km from Geeveston, and a range of 50km (return trip) is not hard to achieve.

There is of course the argument “will there be anything to buy in Huonville”, at which stage the vehicle would only be used to move heavy items around the farm….. and if anyone steals it, they may well be unable to recharge the batteries anyway! Only time will tell.

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