Oil supply in Australia's defence strategy

Author/s (editor/s):

Alex Hunter

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

The Australian refining industry produces efficiently and economically nearly all of Australia's requirements of petroleum products. But at present some 90 percent of the raw material is imported, from the Middle East and Indonesia. In an attempt to overcome dependence on foreign supplies, the Commonwealth government heavily subsidises oil exploration in Australia.

Dr Hunter examines the nature and extent of Australia's dependence on foreign oils; the susceptibility to political disturbance of the areas supplying the oil; the dangerousness of the tanker routes in time of war, insurrection, or regional disputes; the prospects of discovering adequate indigenous supplies located conveniently to the refining centres.

He presents a complex picture, for no one can forecast with any accuracy the kinds of defence emergency Australia may have to face over the next ten to twenty years. What is certain, however, is the vulnerability of tanker routes and consequently of the industries dependent on the imported raw material - crude oil.

Dr Hunter therefore examines the kind of measures appropriate for guarding against short-term interruptions of supply and analyses the long-term policies required to make the Australian refining industry either less vulnerable or else effectively and economically self-sufficient in crude oil supplies.

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