On the side of the Sturt Highway in Wagga Wagga this month, a milestone was reached. The old Caltex sign was taken down and replaced with a new one: “Ampol,” it said. Red letters on a white background. It was the 300th petrol station the company has rebadged since January.

“We’re on track to complete the entire network of almost 1900 sites before the end of next year,” Ampol’s retail boss Jo Taylor says. “You turn the corner, you’ll see an Ampol.”

Last year was one of extraordinary upheaval for Australia’s fuel suppliers. Lockdown restrictions to arrest coronavirus brought normal life to a halt, wiping out sales of petrol, diesel and jet fuel on a scale never seen before. The crash pushed some parts of the industry to breaking point, with two of Australia’s four oil refineries closing their doors for good.

The fuel giant formerly known as Caltex Australia had to confront those challenges and more. After US oil major Chevron terminated a licensing agreement, the company began the mammoth task of rebadging its nationwide fuel network as Ampol, the once-ubiquitous Australian brand phased out in the mid-1990s. Matt Halliday was chosen to replace Julian Segal as CEO to steer the business through.

In reviving the Ampol brand, Halliday insists there are more benefits than challenges. In a market saturated with foreign brands like BP (British Petroleum), Shell (Anglo-Dutch) and Mobil (American), the name Ampol, they hope, might just stand out.

The Ampol brand is one that strongly resonates with Australians,” Halliday says. “We will continue to leverage our position as the only major Australian fuel brand to win new customers.”

Halliday, formerly an executive at Rio Tinto before joining Caltex Australia as chief financial officer, took the reins as Ampol CEO at a decidedly turbulent time last year. As fuel usage collapsed across the country, its profit crashed by 38 per cent for the 12 months to December. Losses at its Brisbane oil refinery – which processes crude oil into fuel products – blew out to $145 million, down from a profit of $70 million the prior year.

The company was forced to launch a review into the future of that refinery, and the hundreds of workers employed there, including whether to shut it down and convert the site to a fuel-import terminal instead.

Extracted in full from: After a bruising year, Ampol revs up rebrand and green fuel ambitions (smh.com.au)