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Prime Mover Magazine


Geelong Refinery celebrates anniversary

The Viva Energy Geelong Refinery is a hub for engineers, scientists, operators, maintenance workers, apprentices and contractors. It also plays an ongoing and vital role in both the local community and regional economies including through some of ITS longstanding customers such as the Riordan Group.

For 60 years the Viva Energy refinery in Geelong has manufactured quality fuel products that can be bought through the Shell Coles Express Network as well as Shell and Liberty branded service stations across the state.

Long associated with the community of Victoria’s second largest city, the refinery currently employs more than 700 staff and estimates suggest that over $200 million of wages and services makes their way into the Geelong region annually.

It supplies more than half of Victoria’s fuel, making it a major contributor to the state economy and remains the sole manufacturer in Australia of avgas, solvents and bitumen.

In recent years the Geelong Refinery has committed itself to long-term investments to build a sustainable future.

A new 100ML crude tank, which is the largest in Australia, was completed on schedule in October 2017, at a cost of around $50 million.

The tank increases the refinery’s crude oil storage capacity by around 40 per cent and according to Viva Energy, holds enough oil to produce all the fuel required to meet Victoria’s needs for about three days, further improving fuel supply security for the state. 

A $23 million pumping station has also been installed to increase fuel supplied by pipeline to Melbourne while there has also been a $4 million upgrade to the jet fuel gantry to improve and diversify supply to Melbourne and Avalon airports.

On top of these developments, a $15 million bitumen export facility is underway in addition to a $23 million, 25 million-litre gasoline tank. A further $13.1 million renovation of the crude distillation unit furnace has also been completed.

All of these investments represent more than a $300M commitment to local manufacturing.

In addition to manufacturing and supplying fuel to hundreds of retail service stations across the state, Viva Energy also supplies to several major industries who all rely on high-quality fuel for productive, daily business operations, including the Riordan Group.

Riordan supplies fuel to agricultural industries and regional freight and busline businesses in addition to transporting many thousands of tonnes of agricultural commodities to and from regional communities across south-eastern Australia using fuel sourced from the refinery.

The longstanding relationship between the two companies, according to Andrew Howley, Riordan Group Chief Financial Officer, works though the convenience network of service stations and unmanned tank network across Victoria and southern NSW.

“Throughout our relationship we have the utmost confidence in the quality, reliability and consistency of fuel produced by the Geelong refinery and its operations,” he says.

Before the fuel is moved via pipeline to the terminal it is assessed by what is referred to as a Product Quality System of Checklists.

The checklists define the testing of fuel samples and how often and where each sample was taken. Should a variation in the test results from the expected outcome be detected it is immediately referred to the Product Quality team for review.

Viva Energy critically assesses the quality of all of its products at each point in the supply chain.

The exact number of deliveries made by Riordan Fuel will depend on the time of year.

During peak periods, where the weekly volumes being moved spike at 2.2 million litres, the company brings in additional subcontractors.

In off-peak periods the fleet delivers an estimated 1.6 million litres of fuel per week. The storage capacity of the trucks used for this task range from around 35,000 litres for single tankers and up to 55,000 litres for B-doubles tankers.

“Our tankers cart fuel for third-party customers and deliver to our distribution network,” says Andrew. “The process of pick up is relatively straight forward, with each type of fuel dispensed from the same location on site.”

Fuel deliveries, however, is a more varied process, as it will often include multiple deliveries by one tanker.

“A tanker may be required to deliver motor spirits and distillate to a service station and the balance of its load to an unmanned tank or to a third party service station or bulk delivery to a customer operating a commercial freight business,” he says.

“As Riordan Fuels’ tanker drivers are often the face of the business when it comes to contact with Viva Energy’s employees at the refinery or terminal or with our customers it is imperative our drivers operate safely, efficiently and courteously.”

On-site the Riordan Fuels tanker drivers present swipe-through-accreditation at the refinery/terminal security gates before proceeding to a loading bay. Fuel is then loaded into the tanker through a gantry arm with a large hose and typically takes between 15 to 20 minutes to fill.

Drivers need to be accredited with all relevant licences including Dangerous Goods, permits and access for the site and to operate the tanker safely at all times.

It’s no meagre operation to service the fuel needs of many regional communities and industries. Riordan Fuels’ distributes fuel to unmanned tanks and Shell branded service stations across Victoria and southern NSW.

“We provide direct employment in regional towns and partner with regional communities to provide access to fuel through our unmanned tanks where other alternatives are unviable,” Andrew says.

“We actively support regional communities through our sponsorships ranging from sporting clubs, educational institutions, community funds and community facilities.”

Viva Energy shares in this dedication to supporting local communities, by not just providing jobs, but by also supporting a range of local community programs. Viva Energy’s national community program supports initiatives with a focus on mental health,  substance mis-use, and Indigenous participation.

In addition, Viva Energy has partnered with Northern Futures, a Geelong community organisation devoted to addressing unemployment in the North Geelong area and works with individuals most at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funds have also been raised to support the Mental Health Role Models program, an initiative to help upskill members of headspace Youth Reference Groups in and around Geelong with formal training across a range of disciplines.

The participants are encouraged to share their stories and help others as part of reducing the stigma of mental illness among young people.

Elsewhere, the Viva Energy Role Model Scholarship program subsidises the cost of Certificate 1, 11 or 111 training courses and associated expenses such as transport and meals.

In support of local grass roots sporting clubs, Viva Energy also supports nine local sporting clubs as well as running the Club Legends Award which recognisises volunteers and sporting club unsung heroes.

As one of only four hydrocarbon refineries remaining in Australia, the Geelong Refinery is working hard to build a sustainable future with the goal of keeping the refinery competitive and continuing to provide around 700 valuable local jobs.

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