VIVA Energy has built the biggest crude oil storage tank in Australia as part of a $300 million investment in the Geelong refinery.

The group’s general manager for refining, Thys Heyns, said the tank would increase the refinery’s production capabilities, lower its cost base and improve Victoria’s fuel supply security. It can hold 100 million litres of crude oil.

“This tank increases our crude storage capacity by 40 per cent and in fact can hold enough crude oil to produce all the fuel required to meet Victoria’s needs for about three days,” he said on Wednesday.

The tank stands 21m high and 84m wide and can hold about 15 days’ worth of production from the Bass Strait oilfields off the Victorian coast.

About 4000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction.

Mr Heyns said the $50 million tank helped underpin the viability of the under-pressure Geelong refinery by increasing its flexibility to blend crude oils and reducing costs by enabling ships to fully unload their crude cargo. Swiss-based energy trading titan Vitol paid $2.9 billion for the Geelong refinery and 870 Shell-branded service stations early in 2014.

The refinery, one of four left in the nation, can process 120,000 barrels of oil a day to make petrol, diesel, jet fuel, bitumen, liquefied petroleum gas, propylene, solvents, avgas and marine fuel oil.

Mr Heyns said Viva had also received the green light from its owner to spend $15 million to double bitumen production at the refinery.

It will also spend $23 million building a 25 million litre gasoline tank to increase fuel storage and $7 million revamping the refinery’s crude distillation unit furnace. Viva has already spent $23 million building a pumping station to increase the amount of fuel transported by pipeline to Melbourne by 25 per cent and another $4 million to upgrade its capacity to provide jet fuel to the Melbourne and Avalon airports.

“All of these projects further demonstrate our commitment to build a sustainable business in Geelong and support our customers in Victoria,” Mr Heyns said.

When Vitol bought the loss-making Geelong refinery in 2014, it said it had five-years to prove itself sustainable.

Viva spun off its service station assets into a listed property trust mid-last year, allowing it to post a $1.21 billion net profit for the 2016 calendar year — well up from the $159.8 million profit in 2015.

Rival refiner Caltex is also upgrading its local fuel storage capacity, spending $75 million to install new tanks at its Newport fuel terminal.

Extracted from: The Courier Mail

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