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Viva plans upgrade to Geelong Refinery

March 9, 2022

Viva Energy’s plan to build Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station at its Geelong refinery site is a vindication of the AWU’s hard work keeping Australia’s last two fuel refineries open.

The refuelling station is part of a $43.3 million project that also involves construction of a 2 Megawatt electrolyser and a financial contribution towards the funding of hydrogen-powered vehicles, to be used by partners including Toll Group and Cleanaway.

Viva will spend $11 million to build the service station and electrolyser, as the oil refiner pushes ahead with its plan to take a lead in the refuelling of hydrogen-powered trucks and buses, and to set up a nationwide refuelling network at its existing service stations along major road transport routes between Melbourne and Sydney, and onto Brisbane.

Hydrogen is set to be delivered from the site in late 2023, and it will support at least 15 heavy vehicles.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton says the AWU has been one of the loudest voices in support of our refining industry.

“We’ve been saying for years that Australia should never become a nation that can’t make its own fuel, and that we need not reach that dire situation if we get a few policy settings right,” he said.

“We kept the Geelong refinery alive during dark times that saw two refineries – including BP Kwinana, and ExxonMobil in Altona – close.

“This was thanks particularly to the Australasian Refineries Operative Committee, and our AWU delegates who worked tirelessly in in 2020-21 to save the refining industry.

“Importantly for the national interest, the ongoing viability of our refineries means the skills of highly specialised technicians are being preserved – skills that will need as we transition toward a future of hydrogen and renewables.”

Viva says the hydrogen refuelling station is part of its plan to turn its Geelong refinery site into a hub for low-carbon energy, manufacturing and delivering traditional fuels, as well as offering transitional and alternative energies.

Mr Walton says AWU has been a strong supporter of the role hydrogen can play in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

“Hydrogen is an incredibly exciting opportunity, because it offers fantastic opportunities to workers in the fossil-fuel sector,” Mr Walton said.

“So long as governments are proactive in making training opportunities available to workers there are obvious synergies and great opportunities to shift from one to the other.

“We know Australia can become a world leader in hydrogen export, as it has the natural resources for the production of both blue and green hydrogen.

“We can become a renewable energy superpower, but we should be using that strength to help Australian jobs and Australian communities first and foremost.”

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