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Vitol confident it can make Australian refinery business a success

refinery owner Vitol has celebrated a change in fortunes in Australia in the
last year and said there’s the potential to buck the trend in its industry.

energy group Vitol – which announced last February that it would buy the refinery, a network of about 870 petrol stations, as well as chemicals, bitumen
and lubricants businesses from Shell for a reported $2.9 billion – has benefited
from falls in the Australian dollar and in crude oil prices.

still had a very difficult first half of the year when refining margins were
quite soft, but refining margins were much stronger in the second half and
Geelong has performed pretty well in the second half, so there is a lot we can
take out of 2014 which gives us confidence about the ability to make Geelong a
success,” Scott Wyatt, who runs Vitol’s Australian assets, told Fairfax.

The company announced it would invest $150 million in the under-performing Geelong
refinery in November last year.

would not say how the refinery was performing in 2014, but told Fairfax that
things had improved since the loss-making years of 2013 and 2012.

has relabeled the Australian assets Viva Energy, and is confident it can go
against the trend in Australia of shutting down refineries, for example Shell
in Clyde in 2012 and Caltex at Kurnell last year. 

Most of the petrol stations owned by Vitol continue to be branded as Shell.

of its plans involve selling fuel nearer to its refinery and producing niche
products that Asian mega-refineries do not, such as bitumen and
propeller-powered aircraft fuel.

on growing our niche products just helps protect Geelong a little bit from some
of that international competition,” said Wyatt.

Image: Julian Smith/AAP

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