NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by Joseph PoprzecznyNews Weekly
Government "hides" report of coming fuel crisis
, February 4, 2012
Australia is rapidly running out of locally-derived petrol for cars, dieseline for heavy haulage trucks and tractors, and aviation fuel.
However, Julia Gillard’s Labor-Greens Government has refused to release an expert report which highlights the imminent danger.
But the attempt to suppress this report has been thwarted by a French whistleblower, energy expert Mr Jean-Marc Jancovici, who has published it on his personal website at www.manicore.com.
The report, titled Transport Energy Futures: Long-Term Oil Supply Trends and Projections, Report 117 (March 2009), was prepared for the Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese by Dr David Gargett of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).
It was never made public and the Labor Government has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal its very existence.
The BITRE website lists preceding reports, such as Report 115 (Air Transport Services in Regional Australia: Trends and Access), then Report 116 (A Regional Economy: a case study of Tasmania). In the place where Report 117 should be listed is an unnumbered report titled, Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme, followed by Report 118 (Cost of road crashes in Australia).
Report 117 of March 2009 is nowhere to be found!
Perth energy expert, David Archibald (co-author of the book, Energy Security 2.0: How Energy is Central to the Changing Global Balance in the New Age of Geography), found Report 117 on the French Jancovici website, but could not trace it back to the Australian Government infrastructure bureau’s Canberra website.
However, he says that this is only part of the mystery.
He explains that just before Christmas the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism finally released its long-awaited Draft Energy White Paper – Strengthening the Foundation for Australia’s Energy Future. But nowhere in this report is there any reference to Report 117 which warns that world oil output is in rapid decline.
Says Archibald: “Report 117 is a very detailed, thorough and methodologically correct report forecasting oil supply to the end of this century.
“What it says is that the world’s oil supply is going to fall off a cliff. The words Report 117 actually uses are: ‘A predicted shallow decline in the short-run should give way to a steeper decline after 2016’.”
Archibald says it is crucially important to note that Australia, following the Bass Strait discoveries, was self-sufficient in oil from 1980 to 2005.
“Since then we’ve slumped to just 50 per cent self-sufficiency, and in 2015 we’ll only be 25 per cent self-sufficient, meaning 75 per cent dependent on foreign oil and petrol imports.
“In other words, three-quarters of our liquid fuel needs (refined plus unrefined) will be imported.”
He says that Australia currently imports about 500,000 barrels a day at $120 a barrel, a figure that will rise to 750,000 barrels a day by 2015. Australia pays $21.9 billion a year for imported fuel. This annual bill will rise to $32.9 billion by 2015 and will skyrocket thereafter.
What makes this state of affairs more alarming is that not only is Report 117 absent from the Bureau’s website, and is nowhere referred to in the Department of Resources’ December 2011 report, but that the latter report actually scoffs at the idea of Australia ensuring it becomes self-sufficient in liquid fuels.
It says: “For a major global energy exporter like Australia, pursuing a goal of national energy self-sufficiency is counterintuitive” (page 67).
Put another way, this means that Australia has an abundance of coal, gas and uranium, which is true. But what that paragraph neglects to acknowledge is that Australia is increasingly coming to depend on imported liquid fuels – oil for our refineries, petrol and dieseline.
In other words, we’re not self-sufficient in the crucial energy source that supplies our automobiles, heavy haulage transport, farming machinery, and even air travel.
Compounding this dangerous short-sightedness, the December report says: “Energy security does not equate to energy independence or self-sufficiency in any particular energy source” (page 69).
Instead of heeding the warning in the mysteriously missing Report 117, the December 2011 report dismisses concern over Australia’s deteriorating state of affairs as being “counterintuitive” and dismisses the very idea that Australia should respond by becoming more self-sufficient.
In fact, Australia is fortunate in that it could easily attain fuel self-sufficiency by building coal-to-liquid fuel plants. (See “What Australia must do before the oil runs out”, News Weekly, April 2, 2011).
Rather than encouraging the construction of such plants that could meet all of Australia’s liquid fuel needs for more than 100 years, Canberra has ridiculed the idea of self-sufficiency and hidden a report highlighting Australia’s vulnerability.
Joseph Poprzeczny is a Perth-based writer and historian.
Dr David Gargett, Transport Energy Futures: Long-Term Oil Supply Trends and Projections, Report 117. Australian Government: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government (March 2009).
Joseph Poprzeczny, “What Australia must do before the oil runs out”, News Weekly, April 2, 2011.