THE CHAIRMAN of Grain Growers has said Australia needs to have a serious look at its approach to fuel reserves in light of the drone attacks which hit key Saudi Arabian oil refineries over the weekend, briefly sending world crude oil prices up by as much as 20 per cent.
Brett Hosking said the grains industry was concerned about the levels of fuel stocks held in reserve in Australia.
International Energy Agency regulations require 90 days' worth of reserves to be stored in Australia but Mr Hosking said fuel wholesalers were increasingly unwilling to take big consignments of fuel and bear the carry costs.
"We've already seen fuel reserves run dangerously low for the grains industry in recent years," Mr Hosking said.
"At harvest six years ago or so we came perilously close to running out of diesel, to the point where some farmers stopped running their trucks just so they had enough fuel to harvest the crop before forecast rain hit," Mr Hosking said.
He said the drone attacks had not come at a good time for the grains industry.
"We're gearing up towards one of our peak usage periods for the year, there are headers starting to roll in central Queensland and this year we are seeing people making a lot of hay so a disruption to fuel supplies would be a big blow."
"There may not be the demand we have in a big year but at present it seems like we don't have that buffer of supplies in hand on our shores if something goes wrong."
"Fuel is an essential resource and we have to have a conversation about it when it is not a pressing issue rather than when it is too late and no one can get hold of what they need to keep their machinery running."
"I'd like to see some sort of an inquiry, whether it comes from the government or the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), it is a discussion we need to have."
The shadow minister for energy Mark Butler backed Mr Hosking's calls, casting doubt on comments from energy minister Angus Taylor that there were sufficient reserves in place.
Mr Butler draw attention to a report from the liquid fuel security review earlier in the year that found Australia only had 23 days of fuel requirements in reserve.
"Australia's fuel security is an extremely important issue, especially at a time of heightened security risks, and for Minister Taylor to make incorrect and misleading statements about Australia's fuel security just shows the Minister is more interested in political posturing than the security of Australia's energy system," Mr Butler said.