The Caltex refinery at Kurnell, Sydney. Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Daily Telegraph
THE decision to close the Caltex refinery at Kurnell has been described as a move that is not in the country’s “national interest”, amid concerns about local fuel security.
Yesterday the company said it would shut the 57-year-old refinery and transform the site into a fuel import terminal, leaving 700 jobs in doubt.
Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said the situation was a “frightening scenario” for motorists who were already paying a high price for fuel.
“Today is a black day for Australia’s manufacturing industry, and for the country’s energy security,” he said. “Our domestic petrol refining capacity will be diminished by this decision, which means we will be more reliant on imported fuel from Singapore.
“Singapore, in turn, is highly dependent on supply from the highly unstable Middle East region.”
Caltex CEO Julian Segal said the closure was expected to be completed by late 2014.
He said less than 100 employees would remain at the site once it shut down.
“Caltex’s refineries are relatively small and in their current configuration are disadvantaged when compared to the modern, larger scale, more efficient refineries in the Asian region against which we compete,” he said.
Renewable Fuels Australia executive director Bob Gordon said the decision was a concern for all Australians.
“Caltex Australia’s decision is worrying news for the future of Australia’s fuel security, as it will make Australian motorists even more reliant on foreign countries for our fuel needs than they currently are,” he said.
“Unless big oil companies are prepared to promote and support alternatives such as ethanol blended fuels … (our) fuel security will be determined by foreign suppliers.”