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Australian intervention, extraordinary G20 Energy Ministers meeting

11 April 2020

Subject: Australian intervention by Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor at the Extraordinary G20 Energy Ministers meeting

E&OE

ANGUS TAYLOR:  First, let me express my appreciation on behalf of Australia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting this important meeting.

We welcome the reaffirmation overnight of the commitment to achieve and sustain a stable oil market. 

We are experiencing an enormous challenge from COVID-19 with extraordinary impacts on our lives and our livelihoods.

Recently, G20 Leaders committed to use all available policy tools to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience.

In the spirit of this commitment, Australia considers that Energy Ministers have an important role to play in calming international energy markets and addressing energy security both now and for the longer term.

In Australia, we are fortunate that our energy systems and markets are operating safely and securely and we continue to respond to the fast-moving COVID-19. 

The Government is working across the energy sector to maintain energy supplies, including electricity, gas and liquid fuels. 

However, we are seeing very real impacts on our refineries, including storage and shipping capacity, as demand and refining margins decline. For now, our refineries are managing this well.

Australians rely on energy availability at sustainable, affordable prices without unnecessary volatility. This is a strong focus for our Government. 

We believe that action needs to be taken to address current excess supply. We are committed to open and transparent global energy markets. We believe there is a need to take action to stabilise oil markets at supply and price levels that support ongoing investment, supply diversity and energy security.

By showing solidarity today, I hope we can ease market volatility and restore confidence. We will send the signals for continued investment to maintain energy security and affordability. 

Australia would like to encourage all countries to behave in a sustainable way and to help reduce volatility in the market, both in the short and long term. 

Market stability will mean when economies are ready to recover from the shock of COVID-19, energy markets will support that recovery.

Part of our collective response must be to focus on continuing trade and supply chains, with appropriate health and safety considerations, to ensure we minimise the shock to the global economy.   

Along with our crucial health workers, the Australian Government is prioritising workers in the energy sector to ensure that we maintain resilience, keep local economies going and maintain crucial services. We are working to keep the lights on and to keep goods and people moving.

I note the IEA’s call for some countries to buy oil to support demand.

Australia has already been advancing a program to enhance our oil reserves prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I can confirm that Australia is well progressed with this work and is seeking to finalise commercial terms now. 

The recently-agreed Australia-US Strategic Petroleum Reserve Arrangement places Australia in a good position to build up strategic reserves.

I thank the United States for their continued support on this arrangement that will enhance Australia’s domestic fuel security and can assist to support global oil markets during this challenging time too.  

I am happy to add Australia’s support to this Ministerial Statement and affirm our commitment to work collectively to restore stability in the market, including through participating in the short-term Focus Group.

Thank you.