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Case study: Coordinating the national response to ensure fuel and energy supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic
The department has led and coordinated the national response within the energy sector to ensure continued access to reliable, secure, and affordable electricity, gas and liquid fuel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key activities have included:
- daily engagement with energy market bodies, companies and states and territories to identify emerging risks to the sector
- monitoring impacts of the pandemic on energy supply, including the effect on maintenance works that can affect long term reliability
- measures to help keep energy supplies operating as needed, including supporting temporary changes to the diesel standard authorised by Minister Taylor, which helped Australian refineries to reduce excess jet fuel
- coordinating cross-border transit issues for critical personnel working in the energy sector, such as in retail fuel distribution or electricity transmission maintenance
- connecting energy businesses to providers of personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing and sanitation products, which were key to keeping energy businesses operating.
Many Australian households and businesses face financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The department, in conjunction with state and territory governments, has worked with energy retailers to support customers experiencing financial difficulties.
The department continues to provide relevant briefing to the energy sector and state and territory governments. We are developing a fuel security plan that includes:
- increasing government-owned fuel stocks through the $94 million agreement with the United States to access crude oil in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve
- working with private industry to identify options to strengthen our domestic fuel security
- making temporary changes to fuel standards to provide immediate relief to refineries for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department also opened a non-binding Request for Information process to test market opportunities to potentially increase Australia’s fuel storage capacity. We are liaising with state and territory energy Ministers in this work.