Australia is negotiating with the US to buy millions of barrels of oil to boost dangerously low levels of fuel held on domestic soil.
The Morrison government is talking with the Trump administration to access the oil from America’s own fuel reserve, as Australia hunts for a way to address dwindling local supply.
Australia has enough petrol and crude oil to last just 28 days – well below the 90 days mandated by an international agreement.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said Australia was talking to the US about tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“The government has undertaken a second initiative since the election to ensure that we continue to deliver increased security for Australians,” he said on Monday.
“Access through a contractual arrangement would greatly boost our stocks and flexibility of supply.”
Mr Taylor has not outlined how much any deal would cost, merely saying it would be “effective but also efficient” for taxpayers.
It would take 20-40 days for oil reserves to be sent to Australia from the US, the Minister told ABC radio.
So-called exchange deals allow countries to boost immediate fuel levels in return for giving the same amount of higher quality oil back to the US.
But Mr Taylor also wants the International Energy Agency treaty, which sets the 90-day supply agreement, to be rewritten to take into account oil in transit to Australia.
“A modernised mechanism, that includes oil stocks in transit to Australia combined with our other fuel security initiatives, would mean that as of May 2019 we are compliant at 92 days of stock,” he said.
Mr Taylor also wants water to be part of the IEA mechanism.
The government is yet to release the final findings of a review of Australia’s fuel security, launched in May last year.