Plan for fuel se­cu­rity

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

IT AP­PEARS that our ex­alted lead­ers are suf­fer­ing from tun­nel vi­sion. They are ob­sessed with do­mes­tic elec­tric­ity sup­plies to the ex­clu­sion of other vi­tal en­ergy is­sues.

Sta­tis­tics show that Aus­tralia is ex­port­ing vast quan­ti­ties of its nat­u­ral gas and coal to the Asia/ Pa­cific re­gion so as to raise the money to im­port from di­verse coun­tries, some as far away as West Africa, crude oil ( sup­ple­ment­ing our do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced crude to keep our three – or is it now fewer – re­main­ing op­er­a­tional re­finer­ies in pro­duc­tion) and re­fined prod­ucts ( be­cause they are cheaper than our do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced prod­ucts).

Ap­par­ently it has not oc­curred to the Gov­ern­ment that, in the event of re­gional con­flict, the sea lanes along which ex­ports and im­ports are car­ried, will be sub­ject to in­ter­dic­tion and that our do­mes­tic petroleum oil and gas fields will be vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack.

In the present geopo­lit­i­cal environment it would be a brave per­son who pro­claimed, “There will be peace in our time”.

It is doubt­ful if any cur­rent mem­ber of ei­ther of our houses of par­lia­ment is aware of the fact that, dur­ing the early 1940s, the few do­mes­tic and light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles that re­mained on our roads were fu­elled by ei­ther pro­ducer- gas units bolted to their rear- ends or bags of gas greater than the phys­i­cal vol­ume of the ve­hi­cles them­selves, car­ried on frames above the ve­hi­cle.

Coal- fired trains and ships car­ried most of the heavy com­mer­cial loads. It is also doubt­ful if any cur­rent mem­ber of ei­ther of our houses of par­lia­ment has any con­cep­tion of ei­ther how mas­sive were the shipping losses dur­ing the early stages of the WWII or of how much more mas­sive would be the losses in the present air/ sea com­bat environment.

Suf­fice to say that, with­out a do­mes­tic source of the whole range of liq­uid fu­els, we would not be able to pro­vide an ef­fec­tive de­fence of our area of re­spon­si­bil­ity, let alone re­tal­i­ate.

We have the re­sources to pro­duce th­ese fu­els but de­spite all the po­lit­i­cal rhetoric about “innovative use of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics”, the sug­ges­tion that we use cur­rently proven vari­a­tions of the Fis­cher/ Trop­sch process to pro­duce jet fuel from nat­u­ral gas ( as Malaysia does) and diesel fuel from coal ( as South Africa does) and fur­ther the work al­ready done on the hy­dro­geni­sa­tion of car­bon diox­ide – both cap­tured from in­dus­trial emis­sions and dis­solved in sea­wa­ter re­sults in shock and hor­ror and a bleat of, “it’s too ex­pen­sive!”

No one seems to re­alise that the is­sue is not “cheap fuel visa- vis ex­pen­sive fuel”, it is “fuel vis- a- vis no fuel”. This is not a bridge that you can cross if and when you come to it, this re­quires con­tin­gency plan­ning. GRA­HAM WOOD,


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