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Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

14 September 2020

Ben Fordham

Subject: Australia's fuel security


BEN FORDHAM: We are taking action to shore up our fuel supply. Next month's budget will include $211 million to build new fuel storage facilities. We're looking to add 780 mega litres of diesel to our onshore stockpile. So 780 mega litres is 780 million litres. The man behind this policy is the Energy Minister Angus Taylor, he's on the line. Angus, good morning to you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Morning Ben, thanks for having me.

BEN FORDHAM: How much have we got left when it comes to petrol and jet fuel?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we have about 25 days or so on average, but we've also got about 35 days of crude oil, and we have stock in our refineries as well. So, we have more than enough right now with coronavirus, but we've got to make sure we've got the fuel we need for the worst possible situation, and that's exactly what this initiative is about - establishing more storage onshore here in Australia, with a particular focus on diesel. But the package is also focused on shoring up our refineries, and those refineries are crucial to process our crude oil coming out of Bass Strait and elsewhere, which ensures that if we can't import, we've still got enough that we can process ourselves, and we can provide those essential services - particularly for our farmers, for our tradies, for our miners, and for our commuters, Ben. They will all benefit from the extra supply and competition, putting downward pressure on prices, and, of course, shoring up for those worst possible situations.

BEN FORDHAM: So, are we boosting existing refineries, or building any new ones?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No, we're supporting our refineries to ensure they can get through what's a very tough time. So, they'll get about an extra one cent per litre, over and above what they would normally have got. Our hope is that that will mean that some of our refineries will be able to expand. But it's crucial that we are able to process our own crude oil coming out of Bass Strait and elsewhere, I mean, that's an essential item here. Because it does mean, if we can't import, we've still got enough fuel. Many of your listeners will remember those fuel shortages we back- had back in the 70s and 80s - it was a pretty tough time, we don't want to ever see a repeat of that again. And our essential industries need that fuel, that's what this package is all about.

BEN FORDHAM: We've got crude oil stored in the United States - the plan is to move some of that back home?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Sure. Over time we'd expect that that's exactly what we'll do. The fundamental problem, at the moment, is we don't have enough storage, and we need that storage built. $200 million, over $200 million from the Government to do exactly that, and that'll be in strategic locations, close to customers, near ports, in places where it can be accessed easily. And with a particular focus, as you said, on diesel, because diesel is the fuel that, when it really gets tough, you need. We've seen that during the virus, that's the one fuel demand that has held, and it's essential you have your diesel there when the worst circumstances unfold.

BEN FORDHAM: We really appreciate your time this morning. Angus Taylor, thank you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you, Ben.