Bodey Dittloff, 04 February 2016

LORNE’S only petrol station is set to be saved, with a Shell outlet likely to take over the site later this month.

A source has confirmed to the Echo that Riordan Fuels, which distributes for Shell-aligned energy provider VIVA Energy Australia, is in the process of signing a new lease for the Great Ocean Road site.

The town was facing life without a servo after it was revealed last month BP would cease its operations in Lorne.

Existing BP staff at the Lorne servo are believed to have been told the station will close on Wednesday, February 17. It’s understood the new business may not be up and running on that date, potentially leaving the town without fuel for a number of days. Job notices for services station console operators were advertised on Wednesday.

BP had cited a contractual dispute with the current landlord as the reason to not re-sign a tenancy. There is also a history of fuel contamination at the site.

It’s believed discussions are under way regarding infrastructure upgrades, with workers expected on site early next week.

The site may undergo a visual facelift and operate under Shell branding, as is the case for four out of Riordan’s six sites at present.

Riordan Fuels operates service stations/convenience stores across the state, including outlets in Lara and North Geelong.

A statement obtained from VIVA Energy earlier this week teased the potential of a move.

“While we would be pleased to have a Shell-branded service station in Lorne, we are not the lease holder of this site and we cannot comment on commercial discussions,” it read.

Lorne Ward councillor Clive Goldsworthy remained positive about the future of the site as negotiations for a takeover deal from BP continued, hoping for a definitive changeover that would be “very positive for the town”.

Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson reinforced her disappointment with BP Australia outside Parliament House on Tuesday, describing the fuel giant’s short notice of closure as “disgraceful conduct” at a time when “local fuel is so important” to the Lorne community.

Extracted in full from the Geelong Advertiser.