The G20 Energy Ministers have held a digital meeting to discuss the stability of global energy markets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting, attended by Australian Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, noted the destabilising impacts of the pandemic on global oil and gas markets, as well as the broader health and social impacts felt across the world.
The meeting emphasised the importance of affordable and uninterrupted energy supply, especially for the support of essential services such as healthcare.
Mr Taylor told the meeting that Australia’s energy supplies and markets were currently operating safely and securely, and that the Australian Government was working with the energy sector to maintain energy supplies, including electricity, gas and liquid fuels.
“Australia considers that Energy Ministers have an important role to play in calming international energy markets and addressing energy security both now and for the longer term,” Mr Taylor said.
“We want to see all players behave in a fair and sustainable way, so action can be taken to address the significant levels of global oil supply.”
Mr Taylor noted the International Energy Agency’s calls for non-producing oil countries to increase oil stocks to support demand. He said Australia had already been taking action before the pandemic to build up emergency reserves in cooperation with the United States.
“I can confirm that Australia is playing it’s part by progressing our recently signed Strategic Petroleum Reserve arrangement with the United States and is now working to finalise commercial terms,” Mr Taylor said.
“This arrangement will enhance not only Australia’s domestic fuel security by bolstering our stockholdings, but will also assist supporting the global oil market during this challenging time.”
Mr Taylor also said the low global oil prices and falling demand were having an impact on Australian refineries and harmed long term investment.
“Our refineries are managing this well for the moment and the Australian Government is working with the sector to better understand their challenges and guarantee the security of Australia’s liquid fuel,” Mr Taylor said.
“Australia is committed to open and transparent global energy markets and the price of oil is clearly an important factor in this. We need to help markets to return to equilibrium, at price levels that provide signals for ongoing investment globally and here in Australia.
“More stability in the market will mean when economies are ready to recover from the shock of COVID-19, energy markets will provide a supportive foundation.”
The G20 Energy Ministers committed to take all the necessary measures to balance the interests between oil producers and consumers to ensure stability and the uninterrupted flow of energy. This would be done by establishing a short-term Focus Group, with the task of monitoring the response measures.
Mr Taylor said Australia had an interest in participating in the Focus Group and that the Federal Government was committed to working collectively to restore stability to energy markets.
The G20 Ministers also agreed to review the response to the pandemic and broader energy agenda at the next scheduled meeting in September 2020.