Interview with Tony Pilkington, 5AA Adelaide
24 March 2020
Subject: Australian fuel reserves, fuel supply chains and petrol prices
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, good afternoon. Welcome to Adelaide.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Good afternoon. Thanks for having me Tony.
TONY PILKINGTON: Now, tell us, what's the story? We've heard your colleague, Senator Jim Molan, suggesting that perhaps our fuel reserves, normally at about 28 days, may be under some pressure.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, consumers can be absolutely assured there's no apparent risk to our fuel supplies, including in South Australia. Indeed, there's an oversupply of fuel in the global market we've got access to – and you're seeing that in the prices - we saw a 23 cent a litre drop in South Australia just last week, down to a $1.07.
TONY PILKINGTON: Yeah.
ANGUS TAYLOR: And we're monitoring that closely to make sure the reductions in price are going through to consumers. Australia's stocks are at long-term average levels including in South Australia, and that's all good news. Now, we're really actively monitoring the situation given all supply chains, you know, across every industry. This is the approach we're taking. And last week, on Friday at COAG, where I have all my state and territory counterparts all together, we agreed to get more real-time local information on fuel stocks, hygiene measures, making sure workforces are being healthy and in place so that we minimise any possible risk. But I can assure you right now, everyone can be assured there's no apparent risk to the supply.
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, generally, how many days' supply do we have? I think Senator Jim Molan was saying about 28 days is about the normal capacity.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, in fact, if you include supply that's coming to Australia, it's closer to 80.
TONY PILKINGTON: 80? Alright.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, correct. But in country, it's typically around 25 and then we've got a lot of fuel on its way to Australia. We're making sure they get through quickly in the ports. That's, obviously, managing our ports has been a major issue in recent weeks, but we're managing that very, very closely, monitoring it very closely. And there's no need to have a repeat of the toilet paper incidents with fuel.
TONY PILKINGTON: Oh God no.
ANGUS TAYLOR: There is enough fuel in the supply chain in place to ensure that there's not going to be a shortage.
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, where does our fuel come from? It's refined where? Up in Singapore these days?
ANGUS TAYLOR: No. Well, around half of it is refined locally and half of it is refined around the world. A lot more coming from the US these days-
TONY PILKINGTON: Yeah.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Which is good news because it's quite close to Australia relative to Europe, which is where traditionally it came from. So, it takes about half the time coming from the US. About half of it locally, and we've worked very hard on our refineries to make sure that they're as efficient as possible. It's been a constant challenge for Australia. And of course, we're producing less fuel locally. Traditionally, Bass Strait provided a large part of our local requirement. Bass Strait has been running down in recent years and this has been a real challenge. We've got potential new reserves being developed in the Northern Territory, and that's good news because it'll mean we'll have more local fuel supply and we want that.
TONY PILKINGTON: So, Minister, summing up the rumours, whatever the speculation, forget all of that - you say that we've got probably even about as much as 80 days of fuel reserves?
ANGUS TAYLOR: We have, including what's coming, and people can be confident that there are no supply issues. I've been working closely with suppliers. We've been talking to them on a regular basis. We will continue to. And we'll put measures in place if there's any sign of a problem but there sure isn't any sign of a problem right now.
TONY PILKINGTON: Angus, good on you. Thanks for your time this afternoon.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Tony.