Courtney Crane, 14 February 2016

THE Lorne service station will remain open for another three months after BP backed down from a decision to shut up shop next week.

Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson said BP had also agreed to allow new operator Riordan Fuels access to the site in order to inspect infrastructure and conduct tests.

It follows allegations BP was blocking Riordan’s access, with Ms Henderson this week revealing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would fast-track an inquiry into BP’s behaviour.

BP had been set to depart the site following a contractual dispute with the owner, leaving Lorne and surrounding towns without a service station.

A BP spokeswoman confirmed the company had decided to stay until mid-May.

”We believe this is a good result for all parties involved,” she said. “It will ensure continued fuel supply at the site and allow for transition activities to take place, including working through remaining commercial matters.”

Ms Henderson said BP had now seen the “error of their ways.”

She said “immediate issues” that had prompted ACCC intervention had now been resolved.

“There are still significant issues to resolve, but I am much more confident now that we will not see the petrol station close,” Ms Henderson said.

“Lack of notice was a very big issue. The people of Lorne had been left high and dry, and now we have a situation where BP Australia is negotiating cooperatively.

“I have said to BP in no uncertain terms that I will be watching closely and if there are any further issues I will not hesitate to speak up.”

Ms Henderson branded BP’s behaviour “corporate thuggery.”

“I think they made some very poor judgments about the situation and did not consider the needs of the community … it was pretty callous behaviour and I am very pleased that we are now seeing BP try to remedy the situation and act responsibly,” she said.

Ms Henderson said tests to be conducted by Riordan would allow the company to “guarantee the integrity of the fuel.”

There have previously been issues with substandard fuel storage tanks and lines.

Extracted in full from the Geelong Advertiser.