Ampol’s newly-appointed chief executive Matthew Halliday expects an evolution in motorists’ habits and fuel demand over the next six months in a COVID-19 economy.

Mr Halliday had been the interim boss since the retirement of Julian Segal in March, and takes over at a time of fewer motorists on roads due to the virus and social distancing.

Mr Halliday joined Ampol last year as chief financial officer after a 20-year career with miner Rio Tinto.

He will receive a base salary of $1.65 million as well as the chance to earn short and long term incentive payments.

Ampol’s retail fuel volumes fell 8.0 per cent in the first few months of 2020 as a result.

While second quarter data was not available, Mr Halliday expected demand would play out differently over the next six months.

“Certainly on the retail side we’ve seen a gradual improvement in numbers,” he said.

As more people work from home, there would be an ongoing evolution in how motorists used fuel.

“People will start coming back to offices, but the equation will be different,” he said.

“People won’t catch public transport as much, which is a positive for retail fuel.

“We’ll also see people doing more domestic driving holidays,” he said, and cited border closures currently preventing interstate travel.

Aviation fuel demand remained very challenged, Mr Halliday said, adding that recovery would depend on state and international border reopenings.

Caltex Australia changed its name in May to Ampol, one of its predecessor companies that operated for decades in Australia. 

Mr Halliday named capitalising on the new identity as his top priority, as many consumers favour Australian businesses through challenging times.

“People really want to support Australian companies,” he said.

“In a post-COVID world, this is an opportunity I want to make sure we harness.”

The first Ampol sites will appear in Sydney and Melbourne in the fourth quarter, and a national rollout will follow in 2021.

Mr Halliday confirmed he still intended to conduct a trade sale or initial public offering of a 49 per cent stake in Ampol’s petrol station sites.

This would happen as soon as market conditions were conducive, he said.

Ampol is also continuing maintenance works on its shuttered Lytton refinery in Brisbane.The company brought the works forward when fuel demand dropped amid the coronavirus crisis.

This is expected to be completed, and the refinery operating again, by the end of August.

Shares in the company were lower by 0.14 per cent to $27.87 at 1306 AEST.

Extracted from Associated Australian Press