Viva Energy, a major emitter as one of Australia’s last oil refining companies, said it is comfortable with Labor’s plan to strengthen action to reduce carbon emissions, insisting it is on course to meet the requirements already.

Labor has proposed strengthening the existing “safeguard mechanism” to require big industrial polluters to sit down and negotiate with the Clean Energy Regulator about how they will cut their respective emissions to achieve Labor’s aggregate target of 5 million tonnes of less carbon each year.

The policy has stirred anxiety within Australia’s largest emitters amid concern they could be placed at a competitive disadvantage, but Viva Energy chairman Robert Hill said the company is content with the policy.

“On the one hand, we see the Labor Party as wanting the refinery to continue, and they want to support the refinery. On the other hand, they want the refinery to play its part in a lower carbon future. And we have no quarrel with that,” Mr Hill told shareholders on Tuesday.

“I’m pleased to say that we feel that we were a little ahead of that with the announcements we made last year, we’re actually achieving significant reductions ourselves in carbon emissions.”

Viva last year said it would aim to reach net zero scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050, as it announced it would lower emissions from its Geelong refinery by 10 per cent by 2030 through energy efficiency projects and what it called operational initiatives.

Prepping for the transition

Viva Energy also said it was also happy with Labor’s plan to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia, a policy that would dent demand for oil.

Mr Hill said the company was already preparing for the energy transition, with Viva Energy positioning for an expected increase in hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Hydrogen typically better suits the heavier end of the transportation sector, while electric battery vehicles are widely expected to dominate among passenger cars.

“We’re of the view that the heavy transport fleet in the future may move more towards a hydrogen fuelling option. And we’re positioning ourselves to be the national leader in supplying that capability in Australia,” said Mr Hill.

Viva Energy said earlier this year it will build Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station at its Geelong refinery site in a move aimed at capitalising on the transport and haulage industry’s expected transition to zero emission vehicles.