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Running on empty? A case study of fuel security for civil and military air operations at Darwin airport

By John Coyne, Tony McCormack and Hal Crichton-Standish

Most Australians have no idea how quickly they’ll be running on empty if fuel supplies from overseas are cut in a crisis.

For decades, the nation has relied on risky, “just in time” deliveries of the fuel necessary for transport systems, industry, policing and individual motoring needs—and even the operations of the Australian Defence Force.

This report describes how this situation is so fraught, and the national reserve so small, that during major military exercises and actual operations such as the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, fuel stocks have reached critically low levels.