FactCheck: Angus Taylor misleads on oil reserves

Angus Taylor (oil)
Angus Taylor

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has attempted to quell public concern about rising fuel prices and global oil shortages by claiming the country has 89 days of oil stocks “here in Australia”, AAP FactCheck reported.

“The minister’s claim is misleading. Official data shows Australia had 64 days of oil imports on Australian soil in December 2021, the most recent month for which figures were available. A further 25 days of oil were either stored offshore for Australian use, onboard vessels to the country or being prepared for shipment at the time,” AAP FactCheck‘s William Summers stated.

Related article: Gas shortages could come as early as winter 2023

Minister Taylor made the claim during a March 9 interview on Sky News, during which he was questioned about rising petrol prices. Asked about Australia’s strategic oil stocks, he replied: “We have 90 days—or 89 days—of stocks here in Australia, according to the definition we use, and that includes both crude oil and finished product.”

When contacted about the basis of the claim, a spokesperson for Minister Taylor told AAP FactCheck in an email: “Minister Taylor was referring to Australia’s emergency oil stocks we hold as part of our commitment to the IEA in accordance with the agreement of the International Energy Program … Minister Taylor went on to say ‘according to the definition we use’, which includes stock on water coming to Australia.”

Australia is a member country of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organisation created in 1974 to co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions to global oil supplies.

As part of its IEA membership, Australia is a signatory to the International Energy Program treaty, which requires IEA members to hold enough oil to sustain domestic consumption for 90 days in a national emergency.

The IEA publishes oil stock figures for each member country here, measured by days of net oil imports. That data shows Australia held the equivalent of 67 days of oil stock in December 2021—the most recent data available at the time of writing—the lowest total of all 27 IEA countries listed.

Australia’s tally includes three days of stock held abroad. The IEA says stocks held under bilateral agreements can be counted towards the 90-day minimum requirement in some circumstances. In 2020, Australia reached an agreement to access part of the United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bolster domestic fuel security.

The only other country that was not compliant with the 90-day requirement was New Zealand with 87 days of stock, 34 of which were held abroad.

Related article: Who’s in charge of NEM stability and resilience?

The Australian government also publishes monthly petroleum statistics hereThat data likewise confirms Australia had 67 days of net oil import coverage in December 2021 (see sheet: “Stock IEA days incl. on the way”).

Minister Taylor’s spokesperson said the government “does not consider the current IEA methodology for counting stocks fair or representative of Australia’s unique geography compared to interconnected European countries”.

Read the full report here.

Previous articleFortescue helps Germany swap Russian gas for hydrogen
Next articleCEC: Budget fails to prioritise renewables transition