A meeting of G20 energy ministers, including Australia’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, has agreed to work together in the spirit of solidarity to ensure the stability of global energy markets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting by video conference noted the destabilising impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global oil and gas markets, as well as the broader health and social impacts felt across the world. The meeting emphasised the importance of affordable and uninterrupted energy supply, especially for the support of essential services such as healthcare.
Minister Taylor told the meeting that Australia’s energy supplies and markets were currently operating safely and securely, and that the Australian Government was working with the energy sector to maintain energy supplies, including electricity, gas and liquid fuels.
“Australia considers that energy ministers have an important role to play in calming international energy markets and addressing energy security both now and for the longer term,” Minister Taylor said.
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“We want to see all players behave in a fair and sustainable way so action can be taken to address the significant levels of global oil supply”.
Minister Taylor noted the International Energy Agency’s calls for non-producing oil countries to increase oil stocks to support demand. He emphasised to the G20 leaders how Australia had already been taking action before the pandemic to build up emergency reserves in cooperation with the United States.
“I can confirm that Australia is playing it’s part by is progressing our recently signed Strategic Petroleum Reserve arrangement with the United States and is now working to finalise commercial terms,” he said.
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“This arrangement will enhance not only Australia’s domestic fuel security by bolstering our stockholdings, but will also assist supporting the global oil market during this challenging time.”
Minister Taylor also noted the low global oil prices and falling demand were having an impact on Australian refineries and harmed long term investment.
“Our refineries are managing this well for the moment and the Australian Government is working with the sector to better understand their challenges and guarantee the security of Australia’s liquid fuel,” he said.
The G20 energy ministers committed to take all the necessary measures to balance the interests between oil producers and consumers to ensure stability and the uninterrupted flow of energy. This would be done by establishing a short-term Focus Group, with the task of monitoring the response measures.
G20 ministers agreed to review the response to the pandemic and broader energy agenda at the next scheduled meeting in September.