Plan for fuel security
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,