WAGGA has been placed on the map of Australia’s alternative fuel sector with the opening of Southern Oil’s $2.2 million new hydrotreater plant.
The new plant will see crude oil from diverse sources – from wood chips to human waste and coal – turned into fuel for planes and ships through a process called hydrogenation.
The process removes impurities from the oil to produce a cleaner and more stable fuel.
“We’ll be turning that green crude into a renewable fuel you’ll be able to put into cars, boats and planes,” Southern Oil managing director Tim Rose said.
The plant is the first of its kind in Australia and Mr Rose is hopeful it will put Wagga front and centre of tacking the growing issue of fuel security.
“Fuel for this country is a very important issue that is going to come up in the next decade or so,” he said.
“This is the next step we hope in starting to build some fuel security for this country.”
At full operational capacity, the plant is expected to be able to supply the Royal Australian Navy’s full demand for jet fuel.
With the opening of the plant, Southern Oil will employ an additional six people.
Should it prove successful, Mr Rose anticipates another similar plant could be built that is “20 to 30 times the size of the one (in Wagga)”.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack was on hand for the official opening of the plant on Friday and said it represented “not just an investment in Wagga, (but) an investment in our nation”.
“This hydrotreater plant is going to redefine how we do things as far as re-refining oil,” he said.
Mr McCormack said Australia’s fuel security was a critical issue that needed addressing, with the new hydrotreater plant a major step in getting on top of the problem.
“We actually don’t have oil reserves, we don’t have a supply to last us beyond 20 days in Australia,” he said.
“This could well be the catalyst for providing that much-needed oil, for that much-needed resource that we need to keep industry moving, and it’s happening right here in Wagga.”