Swiss energy group Vitol is set to invest $150 million over the next two years into its Geelong refinery to improve the efficiency, safety and reliability of the iconic site, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Dutch-owned company, which acquired Shell‘s downstream business for $2.9 billion three months ago, is planning to invest $1 billion in Australia to meet more than a quarter of the country’s fuel needs efficiently and safely.
The refinery’s office locations and the Shell brand in the downstream sector are owned and operated by Viva Energy Australia – an entity established by Vitol following the completion of Vitol’s acquisition of Shell’s Australian downstream business.
It is understood that the company has axed about 10% of its workforce – most of which are white collar jobs – but has retained all 450 staff at the Geelong refinery, saying their expertise was a key part in making the business profitable.
Viva Energy would not confirm the number of redundancies, but said they had stemmed from Viva refocusing the former Shell business into a domestic rather than an international operation.
“There have been some staff reductions in our head office as result of cancelling a major Global Shell IT program and other general business wide efficiencies, which were unrelated to the divestment,” said Viva Energy spokeswoman Jessica Marriner.
The sale included the Geelong refinery and an 870-site retail business along with its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants businesses in Australia.
“The sale also did not include Shell’s aviation or lubricants production businesses, so a relatively large number of these employees also relocated to their new office,” said Ms Marriner.
According to her, the company had remained committed to apprenticeship, graduate and the CareerTrackers indigenous internship programs. It has also advertised for several positions in its property and sales departments.
“We believe [the] Geelong refinery can play an important role in Australia’s energy future and our focus is working with our employees, our customers and the local community to build a sustainable manufacturing business,” she said.
“While some economic factors are out of our control, we aim to improve performance through the planned investment, productivity gains, optimising feedstock and a number of growth initiatives.”