Geelong manufacturer breaks four-decade wait

Viva Energy Australia’s Geelong Refinery is manufacturing its first new solvent product since the 1980s, it has been announced.

Vivasol X55, which is used for tyre shine, tyre re-tread, cleaning for auto transmissions and brakes, adhesives and thinners.

“Launching a locally refined product, particularly one that we previously imported, is always exciting as the opportunities to do so are few and far between,” said Thys Heyns, the refinery’s general manager.

“The Geelong refinery is well-known for manufacturing niche products and the addition of Vivasol X55 to our suite of locally produced products strengthens this position.

“We are the only refinery in Australia producing solvents, bitumen and avgas, which is used for propeller engine planes.

“In order to help ensure the long term sustainability of the refinery we need to play to our strengths and specialty products is definitely a strength for Geelong.

“As an industry we need to adapt to changing customer and market conditions and Vivasol X55 is an important demonstration that we can do this.”

Geelong Refinery has operated in Victoria for more than 60 years and provides employment for more than 700 full time employees. It is a highly skilled workforce and injects more than $200M in wages and services directly into the local economy each and every year.

The refinery produces about 50 per cent of Victoria’s and 10 per cent of Australia’s total fuel needs. The production of Vivasol X55 is the second new product to be manufactured at the refinery since being purchased by Viva Energy in 2014.

“The refinery has been focussed on selling nearly all of its production into our home State of Victoria; however, this does not necessarily include our niche products,” Heyns said.

“Two years ago the refinery created low-aromatic unleaded fuel as part of the Federal Government’s petrol sniffing prevention program which is distributed throughout the northern half of Australia.

“We are also exploring the possibility of building an export line to supply locally made bitumen to other parts of Australia where imported product is their only option.

“These strategies, innovations and investments are important as we must focus on doing all that we can to help compete against Asian mega refineries, which can be up to 10 times our size and two to three times cheaper to run.”

Viva Energy is the exclusive licensee of the Shell brand for fuel distribution in Australia.

In addition to its 950 plus Shell branded service station network and its Geelong Refinery (VIC), Viva Energy operates aviation, bulk fuels, bitumen, marine, chemicals and lubricants businesses supported by more than 20 storage terminals across the country.