BP Australasia to close Brisbane refinery

BP Australasia has announced the imminent closure of its Bulwer Island refinery at Brisbane. The 96,850-b/d facility will close by mid-2015 with the loss of more than 350 jobs, slicing another piece from Australia’s diminishing local production of petrol, diesel, and other fuels. The company is investigating the option of turning the refinery into a fuel import terminal.

BP Australasia Pres. Andrew Holmes said the decision was taken because the refinery could no longer compete with the growing number of ultralarge refineries in Asia.

He said BP’s best option for strengthening its long-term supply position in the Australian east coast retail and commercial markets is to buy in product from other refineries.

The move comes despite BP investing heavily in the Bulwer island plant over the last decade to maintain its viability.

At this stage BP’s other Australian refinery—the 138,698-b/d facility at Kwinana, south of Perth, in Western Australia—will remain open. It has the advantage of being the only refinery in the western half of Australia and can count on crude supply from local oil fields.

BP’s Brisbane closure announcements comes on the heels of Shell Australia’s announcement in February of the sale of its 118,000-b/d Geelong refinery in Victoria and its network of 870 retail outlets across the country to Dutch group Vitol for $2.9 billion (Aus.).

Shell had already closed its Sydney refinery and Caltex Australia is getting ready to convert its Sydney refinery to an import terminal by yearend.

Caltex has another refinery—Lytton—at Brisbane that will remain open at this stage. BP says it has a long-term agreement with Caltex for road transport fuels from Lytton and it will import other fuels, including jet fuel from elsewhere.

The Bulwer Island refinery was built by Amoco PLC in 1965. It was taken over by BP in 1984.

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