The Australian Workers’ Union has today applauded the federal government’s move to build up the nation’s domestic emergency fuel reserves, noting the answer lies in building crude oil storage facilities alongside existing refineries.
The AWU has warned for years about Australia’s increasing fuel insecurity and national vulnerability.
“It’s excellent to see the federal government moving to address this long-neglected issue,” said AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the risks surrounding supply chain security. None are more important than fuel security, which is central to everything else.
Australia now has a golden opportunity to take advantage of historically low crude prices and shore up its critically low fuel supplies by expanding its existing refineries and workforce.
“Australia’s refineries should be the first place the Federal Government turns to in its hunt for new crude oil storage facilities. Storage and refining go hand in hand when it comes to security; and the two must be linked.
“Storing crude gives us the flexibility we need in terms of producing finished product such as motor vehicle petrol, jet fuel or diesel.
“This expansion will also support a productive future for the country’s refineries and the thousands of workers employed in the sector.”
The Federal Government announced today it was seeking new oil storage opportunities as part of its plan to develop a comprehensive fuel security package. It intends to boost oil reserves from 7 million to 15 million barrels.
The AWU has been working closely with Government and industry leaders in recent week to ensure the country’s oil refining and storage industry is not only maintained, but expanded.
“Boosting our oil reserves from seven million barrels to 15 million will have a huge impact on our refineries,” Mr Walton said.
“Any serious fuel security approach will mean that we have a crude oil storage capacity onshore in Australia. and a large refining capability.
“In the last ten years we have witnessed the closure of many major refineries around the nation and lost thousands of jobs. It’s high time we reverse that decline, restore and expand our refineries and develop new job opportunities with the construction of storage facilities alongside our refineries.
“This is not only the most cost-effective strategy – in an uncertain world, it’s also the most strategically sound.”
The AWU will be working closely with members of the refining industry to push the case for building new storage facilities alongside existing refineries.