Australia's Fuel Security Crisis

With less than three weeks of liquid fuel reserves, Australia risks grinding to a halt following a global economic shock or conflict along a major trade route, but a new report outlines a potential solution that would cost consumers less than a cent per litre.

Australia’s Fuel Security: Running on Empty, written by former Director of the Maritime Transport Policy Centre at the Australian Maritime College John Francis, will be released this morning in Parliament House, Canberra.

The report examines the policy and industry changes that have caused fuel supplies to fall to just a quarter of the International Energy Agency’s fuel stockholding obligation, along with costing a potential solution.

It also highlights that Australia is the only developed oil-importing country where there is no government controlled stock of crude oil or refined petroleum products, no mandated commercial stock requirements for oil companies, and no government involvement in oil markets.

Concerns over declining domestic production, diminishing refining capacity, and potential flashpoints in the Middle East and South China Sea forced the Turnbull government to announce in May that it would undertake a National Energy Security Assessment.

Mr Francis was commissioned by the Maritime Union of Australia to investigate Australia’s reliance on international ships for our liquid fuel supplies, estimate the number of tankers required to maintain supplies, and calculate the cost, per litre, of using Australian-owned and crewed tankers to maintain fuel supplies.

Download Full Report

Download a summary of the report

Published: 4 Jan 2022

Banner Images: 



The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) welcomes Labor’s plan to establish a Strategic Fleet of Australian flagged and crewed vessels to restore Australia’s domestic shipping sector and guarantee our national trading and shipping capacity in times of crisis or national disaster.

Published: 17 May 2021

Banner Images: 

Taxpayer subsidies of $2.4 billion to keep Australia’s last two oil refineries in operation won’t address key issues threatening Australia’s fuel security, including a lack of domestic fuel stockpiles and the need for a Strategic Fleet of Australian tankers to supply oil during a crisis, the maritime union has warned.

Published: 11 Mar 2020

Banner Images: 

The Morrison Government’s arrangement to store Australia’s emergency fuel reserves in the United States is nothing more than an accounting trick that will do nothing to ensure the country’s resilience to a global crisis that disrupts fuel supplies, the Maritime Union of Australia has warned.

Published: 19 Sep 2019

The Morrison Government is being urged to take urgent and radical steps to secure the nation’s fuel security following reports it is working on a plan that would not see Australia meet the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation until 2026.

Recent attacks on oil infrastructure in the Middle East, including a drone strike that has knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production, highlight Australia’s exposure to global energy shocks and the need to overhaul shipping, refining, and storage capacity.


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney