Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery is set to see a $300 million upgrade, to allow it produce better-quality fuel.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week announced Viva Energy would receive $125 million through its Refinery Upgrades Program, which was matched by the refinery, to allow for major infrastructure upgrades.

Viva Energy chief executive Scott Wyatt said the funding would allow the refinery to upgrade its processing capability at the refinery to produce ultra-low sulphur fuel.

The federal government had previously introduced a new standard on the amount of sulphur in petrol that was due to come into effect in 2027 as a way to reduce vehicle emissions.

The upgrades will allow Viva Energy to begin producing the fuel sooner and bring forward the introduction of the new standard to 2024.

“Bringing forward the roll-out of ultra-low sulphur fuel from 2027 to 2024 will deliver significant health benefits for Australians through improved air quality,” Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said.

“This is estimated to result in $1.02 billion in avoided health costs.”

The total cost of the upgrade is expected to be approximately $300 million, and will be completed over the next three years.

Mr Wyatt said Viva Energy was expecting to spend between $50 million and $70 million in 2022.

During peak construction the project will employ up to 300 people, adding to more than 700 people employed at the refinery on an ongoing basis.

“Viva Energy is proud of our role in supporting energy security. We have recently committed to continue refining in Australia through to mid-2028, and construct an additional 90 megalitres of diesel storage to improve Victoria’s fuel supply security,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Our announcement to substantially upgrade our refinery will improve the quality of petrol produced here in Australia, help reduce vehicle emissions, and improve our processing flexibility.

“These investments and commitments support local jobs and substantially improve Australia’s energy security as part of the federal government’s Fuel Security Package.”

Mr Morrison said it was particularly important to secure fuel production in the face of global uncertainty.

“COVID-19, the Russian war in Ukraine and trade restrictions have disrupted global supply chains and Australia is not immune,” he said.

“Oil refineries literally fuel a stronger economy and these investments will help keep our truckies, miners, defence force and farmers moving across Australia.

“Our plan for a stronger future locks in Australia’s refining capabilities and will ensure upgrades are made to improve the quality of our fuel.”

However the announcement has also been met with criticism, particularly from Greens candidates for Corio, Simon Northeast, and Corangamite, Alex Marshall.

“The $125m government investment would be better spent driving new export industries in green hydrogen and minerals processing, ensuring Australia becomes a renewable superpower,” Mr Northeast said.

“Geelong is a city known for innovation. We have the opportunity to become a leader in a rapid transition to 100 per cent renewables, creating new jobs and industries along the way.

“Australia has the opportunity to become a renewable energy superpower and clean energy exporter. This would mean tens of thousands of sustainable jobs including for people in Geelong, the Bellarine and the Surf Coast.”

Extracted in full from: Refinery set for $300 million upgrade | Geelong Independent (geelongindy.com.au)

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