15/04/2013 - 06:56

Secrecy shrouds fuel failure

15/04/2013 - 06:56


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NSW motoring group study supports suppressed government report on fuel self-sufficiency.

Late in December 2011 I was stunned to learn a Gillard government report warning that Australia’s liquid fuel (petrol/dieseline) supply chain was becoming increasingly tight had been suppressed.

Then, in a bizarre twist, a still-unknown patriotic Australian outwitted the government censor by emailing a copy of the suppressed report to noted French energy expert, Jean-Marc Jancovici.

He promptly posted it on his website for all, including my informant, to read.

Those interested in this cover-up and the ‘French connection’ expose can see my column publicising it; New perspective on parlous energy plan, (January 19 2012).

Here I highlight a few select points.

The suppressed report that appeared on a French website was titled: ‘Transport Energy Futures: Long-term oil supply trends and production’ (March 2009) and numbered Report 117.

What it disclosed and emphasised, with tables and graphs, was that world oil output will continue declining since ‘peak oil output’ had already been reached.

Report 117’s wording is: “A predicted shallow decline in the short-run should give way to a steeper decline after 2016.”

Long forgotten by Canberra politicians and their policy wonks is that, in the less perilous 1960s, Australia imported all its oil requirements.

But our Bass Strait finds, which were subsidised, meant Australia became virtually oil self-sufficient from 1980 to 2005.

This source is rapidly depleting.

Australia currently imports about 500,000 barrels/day, rising to 750,000b/d by 2015 – so $20.1 billion and $27.4 billion per annum respectively at $110/b.

Apart from suppressing Report 117, which highlighted the coming return to dependence on shrinking and precarious overseas sources, another Canberra report, titled ‘The ‘Draft White Paper – Strengthening the Foundation for Australian Energy Future’ (December 2011), contended all will remain rosy.

On page 67 it said: “For a major global [coal and gas] energy exporter like Australia, pursuing a goal of national energy self-sufficiency is counterintuitive.”

On page 69 it added: “Energy security does not equate to energy independence or self-sufficiency in any particular energy source.”

Precisely what the word “counterintuitive” was intended to convey remains a mystery.

And claiming energy security doesn’t equate with energy independence or self-sufficiency is utterly deranged. Such a claim could only be made by someone unconcerned about suppressing a report that warned Australia was destined for complete dependence for its entire liquid fuel needs – the opposite to self-sufficiency.

However, suppressed Report 117’s warning recently attracted backing from a long-time highly respected quarter that neither the Gillard government nor its myopic departmental boffins can be expected to appreciate.

On February 28, the NSW National Roads and Motorists’ Association – equivalent to WA’s RAC – released a report titled ‘Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security’, which confirmed the outlook in Report 117.

Headed by retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn, it highlighted a range of problems that can only be collectively described as warnings that Australia’s present liquid fuel position is cascading towards becoming truly perilous.

Perilous here means that, if our increasing dependence on imported oil and refined liquid fuels continues, we’re open to the danger of finding ourselves without supplies during a crisis.

I quote just four paragraphs in this tightly argued and empirically backed 22-page report.

“In essence, we have adopted a ‘she’ll be right’ approach to fuel security, replying on the historical performance of global oil and fuel markets to provide in all cases,” it says

“Unfortunately, as a result of our limited and decreasing refining capacity, our small stockholding and long supply chain, our society is at significant risk if any of the assumptions contained in the vulnerability assessments made to date prove false.

“We would not be the first country to get our assumptions wrong.

“In that respect, history can be relied upon.”

Elsewhere, the NRMA report reminds the wilfully blind and ignorant of other simple home truths, ones sensible people instantly comprehend.

For example, it says: “Without an adequate supply of liquid fuels we could not access health services; food production and distribution would be severely curtailed; most businesses could not operate; our personal and much of the public transportation system could not function; and our Defence Forces could not operate. (page 5)

“In NSW alone, food distribution comprises 14 million cases a week through 25,000 truck trips from retail distribution centres and direct suppliers to retail outlets.” (page 7)

And there’s more of that calibre of level-headed analysis.

Thankfully there’s an NRMA.

How could such sound thinking emanate from a non-government civic-minded and patriotic service organisation, when the opposite emerges from the federal government in Canberra?

It’s a pertinent question considering the NRMA was launched in 1920 and its president from then until his death in 1941, was Chris Watson, Australia’s third prime minister, who’d led the first Australian Labour Party (Labor post 1912) government during 1904.




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