Altona’s loss is Viva Energy’s gain

February 18, 2021 BY

Viva Energy is now one of two operating refineries left in Australia. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

VIVA Energy will be the beneficiaries of ExxonMobil’s decision to switch its Altona refinery to an import terminal.

The closure means Geelong’s Viva Energy refinery will be eligible for a larger cut of the Coalition Government’s $83.5 million lifeline as one of only two operating refineries left in the country.

The Fuel Security Package, announced last year, was an initiative to safeguard Australia’s energy industry, which was heavily affected by the pandemic.

Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said the news represented a “major boost” for Geelong workers.

“The decision of ExxonMobil to close its Altona Refinery means that the Geelong Refinery will now be eligible to receive a greater share of the funds allocated to the accelerated production payment grants.”

The extra boost comes after the Coalition announced it would bring forward production payments to be rolled out for refineries continuing operation from January 1 this year.

The low demand for fuel during the pandemic threatened the viability of Viva Energy’s Geelong operations, which the company considered permanently closing in September and putting about 700 people out of work.

When announced, the payment support was set to provide a minimum one cent payment for each litre of primary transport fuel including petrol, diesel and jet fuel, from Australia’s three major domestic refineries at the time.

Viva Energy chief executive officer Scott Wyatt said his company would produce 3 billion litres in the first six months of 2021, which would result in production payments of $30 million.

The Coalition will later introduce a long-term market mechanism.

“The Morrison Government is also supporting additional onshore storage by investing $200 million in a competitive grants program to build an additional 780ML of diesel storage and creating a minimum stockholding obligation for key transport fuels,” Senator Henderson said.

Viva Energy is presently working on projects to develop the Geelong Energy Hub at the refinery, with plans to build a new liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal as well as include a solar energy and battery farm and support new energy technologies such as hydrogen.

A final investment decision is anticipated by mid-2022.

Geelong Sustainability will host a community briefing on February 24 on the proposed LNG terminal, covering concerns regarding the state’s energy, economic, recreation, and climate future.

Event organiser Sally Fisher said given the implications, a key aspect of the briefing would be to outline the Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

“We will be outlining ways that people can help to build community support towards a sustainable energy future for Geelong.

People must be well informed about the EES process and the potential impacts of the Viva proposal.”

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