Environment and sustainability

Envrionment

We are environmentally responsible across all our operations

We aspire to be Australia’s most respected energy company. That means we place the highest priority on the health and safety of the environment and the communities where we operate. We are committed to continual improvement of our environmental performance, and to reducing any potential impacts of our operations or from our products.

Managing our environmental footprint, improving our energy efficiency and reducing our emissions are all important priorities. Our other focus areas include water and land management, and minimising waste.

Read our Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) policy.

Greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency

Taking action

We are taking action on climate change by working to reduce the emissions intensity of our operations and developing products that are more efficient for our customers. We work closely with the Clean Energy Regulator to report on our emissions at our Geelong Refinery.

Reporting our emissions

Every year we monitor and report our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption to the Federal Government. The information we provide is published annually through the Clean Energy Regulator reporting system. Our Geelong Refinery’s GHG emissions are regulated by the GHG emissions baseline determined by the Clean Energy Regulator under the Safeguard Mechanism.

To learn more, see National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting and Safeguard Mechanism.

Improving our energy efficiency

Producing the same amount using less energy is what the energy efficiency challenge is all about. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency makes good business sense.

We are committed to investing in projects that will help us minimise our energy use. At our Pinkenba terminal in Brisbane, we’ve recently converted 284 lights to LED, resulting in a 64 percent energy saving and a reduction of 272 tonnes of GHG emissions each year. You can read the full story here.

At our Geelong Refinery, energy use represents almost 30 percent of our operating costs, which makes energy efficiency a top priority.

One of our energy projects has established and verified key energy indicators, so that our operations team knows how much energy is being used across the refinery. Much like the dashboard in your car, these indicators provide the information needed to make energy-efficient choices in operating the refinery’s equipment. We achieved two percent energy reduction in the first year, and we expect further reductions.


Air quality

Protecting our air

Australia has some of the best air quality in the world. Manufacturing, storing, supplying and using fuels and other oil products can cause air emissions. We are committed to protecting our air quality by managing emissions from our operations and delivering high-performance products to reduce our energy consumption and emissions.

We monitor our emissions carefully, to plan for improvements and minimise the risk of any environmental impacts, and we report to the appropriate authorities regularly.

Successfully reducing air emissions

To reduce air emissions associated with our operations and to meet our regulatory requirements, we have made significant investments in our equipment and processes.

Reducing VOCs
Viva Energy has invested over $13 million in reducing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions from gasoline bulk storage tanks at our Geelong Refinery and at major fuel terminals across Australia. This involved installing internal floating covers in our fuel tanks; these covers sit on top of the fuel and provide a tight seal so that the escape of emissions is minimised.

Monitoring has found that over a 10-year period, hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline storage tanks at our Geelong Refinery were reduced by more than 86 percent.

Vapour Recovery Units (VRU) are installed at our major fuel terminals and at a select number of service stations to collect vapour emissions during car and tanker refuelling operations. Filters are used to capture the vapours, which are then converted to liquid, turning a potential air emission back into fuel. This closed system significantly reduces the amount of VOC emissions that may escape to the air.

Reporting our performance

We collect data on our air emissions so we can set targets and comply with our regulatory obligations. We are committed to reporting performance data on the emissions from our facilities annually. Our data is publicly available to the community, industry and government.

To learn more, see the National Pollutant Inventory.

Delivering energy

We are committed to delivering energy more efficiently to help meet the growing energy demands of Australians.

In 2004, we commissioned the first ultra-low sulphur diesel production facility in Australia. The $160 million investment has helped to reduce sulphur emissions from vehicles, trucks and equipment using diesel.

As the exclusive Shell licensee in Australia, we have access to Shell’s range of high-quality products across both fuels and lubricants. These products are designed to help improve fuel economy – helping motorists improve efficiency and save on energy use.

We employ a team of fuel and lubricant engineers who provide support across a range of industries. The technical support and advice we offer has helped many of our customers improve their energy efficiency. You can read one of our success stories here.

Learn more about our fuels and lubricants.

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Water management

Protecting a valuable resource

Water is an essential resource and we understand that we need to manage our consumption responsibly. Our aim is to minimise water use throughout our entire production and operations chain. We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our water management wherever operational, regulatory and business conditions allow.

Water recycling

At our Geelong Refinery, we need a lot of water to produce the steam that heats the crude oil, and for cooling the fuels as they’re being made. Every drop we can save or recycle means more for the local community.

Roughly 90 percent of the water used at the Geelong Refinery is recycled water from the Northern Water Plant, saving 1.5 billion litres of drinking water each year – or the equivalent of the amount of water used by 10,000 homes per year. The plant was a joint venture between the Geelong Refinery, State and Federal Governments and Barwon Water. It took ten years to complete and cost over $100 million.

Learn more about the Northern Water Plant.

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Protecting our environment

Most of our larger facilities are located along the Australian coastline, sometimes within areas of environmental significance. We have the right equipment as well as established internal compliance systems to prevent pollution from water that is discharged from our facilities, as well as regulatory controls through licensing and permits. We use a variety of design principles and water treatment systems at our facilities and retail network to ensure that any impacts of storm water and wastewater on the environment are minimised.

The Kangaroo Wetlands adjacent to our Newport terminal have played an important role in improving environmental quality and visual aesthetics in the local community. The wetlands provide sediment filtration and biodegradation of storm water runoff from the terminal as a final water treatment stage prior to release into the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. A study completed by Monash University on the performance and water quality of the Kangaroo Wetlands found storm water discharged is of a quality higher than general storm water runoff from urban areas. 

Learn more about Kangaroo wetlands.


Waste and recycling

Minimising waste

We try extremely hard to eliminate, reduce, reuse or recycle our waste across all of our operations and the projects we undertake.

We don’t waste opportunities

Waste management practices at our Geelong Refinery really are world-class:

  • 100 percent of all wastewater is sent to the Northern Water Plant for recycling.
  • 90 percent of the water used in refinery processes is recycled water from the Northern Water Plant.
  • About 1,300 tonnes of waste catalyst are sent to the cement industry for reuse each year, diverting it from landfill.
  • Sulphur waste is reused by industries such as fertiliser manufacturing.
  • Spent caustic is sent to our Clyde terminal, where it is neutralised in our water treatment plant.
  • Hydrocarbon sludge waste is treated and processed by mixing it with mulch and biodegrading it into compost. The compost is then used in the land surrounding the refinery, which is why the 100,000 native trees that we’ve planted over the years look so healthy.
  • Other waste materials including steel, soil and timber are recycled through our on-site waste transfer station.

Learn more about our waste management.

At the Clyde Terminal Conversion Project a dedicated waste management team has ensured over 38,000 tonnes of scrap metal and 30,000 tonnes of high-grade sand is being reused in building projects around Sydney.

Sustainable packaging

Because we sell products that need packaging, we’ve been working with the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) to reduce the impact of our packaging on the environment. We fully support the principles and are a signatory of the APC. Each year we submit an annual report on our activities and our progress.

View our APC 2018 report (PDF 1.6MB)

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Land management

Goal Zero

We are absolutely committed to pursuing the goal of no harm to people and protecting the environment. We call this Goal Zero.

It is imperative that we do whatever we can to minimise any impact on soil and groundwater quality in the event of a spill or leak from any of our facilities. We also monitor and work with regulators on any historical issues, including remediation of legacy and operating sites.

No product to ground

The principle of ‘no product to ground’ describes one of our environmental commitments to Goal Zero. We are committed to investing in processes and equipment that are safer, more reliable and more efficient, and using monitoring and control systems to rapidly detect problems – especially leaks.

For our Geelong Refinery and other major facilities, we continue to invest in leak detection technology such as EMAT (Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer), a real-time advanced pipework inspection technique. We also continue to implement advanced leak detection technology across our retail service station network.

Land for the future

We have a dedicated team that manages environmental assessments and remediation, working with property owners, local communities and regulators to ensure land is suitable for our ongoing operations or future development. We support sustainable approaches to remediation that consider the interests of our various stakeholders.

Our Clyde Terminal Conversion Project is well advanced to convert the former refinery into a world-class import and storage terminal. Learn more about the Clyde Terminal Conversion Project here.

We have implemented a Landscape Management Plan on the foreshore area adjacent to our Geelong Refinery. Working with stakeholders such as the City of Greater Geelong, Departments of Environment, Primary Industries and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, we have invested over $700,000 to manage historical impacts, replant native vegetation and regenerate the foreshore.


Noise and odours

Being a good neighbour

We acknowledge that noise and odours from machinery, pumps, on-site vehicles, flares and sirens can be a concern for our neighbours and local communities. We are committed to minimising any of these impacts on the communities we operate in.

We have a number of processes and controls in place across our facilities to ensure our operations don’t cause noise issues. As an example, to help us mitigate noise from our Gore Bay facility, we have:

  • A rigorous ship selection and vetting process based on noise performance.
  • A process where we start our barge operations later on weekends.
  • Installed acoustic enclosures around some equipment.
  • Reduced pumping rates on ships if they cause the community any issues.

Odours from some products can be caused by sulphur compounds, nitrogen compounds and hydrocarbons and can be generated as a result of storing crude oil and fuel oil, as well as from bitumen production. We are committed to minimising odours by:

  • Use of a Vapour Emission Control System (VECS) at Gore Bay.
  • Changing seals on fuel oil tanks to prevent odours from escaping.
  • Testing fuel oil samples for odour prior to delivery.
  • Planning our projects better to neutralise any potential odours.
  • Responding to complaints proactively and monitoring our air emissions.

Our major facilities

The Geelong Refinery

We are proud of our refinery’s environmental achievements during the past ten years, which have included investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental improvements and initiatives.

The flare is one of the most visible parts of the refinery and is often of interest to the community. Commonly used in refineries right across the world, flares act as a pressure safety relief device. To learn more about the role the flare plays at the refinery, read our Flare Fact Sheet.

Environment Licence

The Geelong Refinery operates under an Environmental Licence issued by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPAV). The licence contains a range of strict conditions relating to waste disposal and treatment, air and water discharges, and noise and odour.

The refinery is required to monitor and report on compliance with these conditions. The results are submitted to the EPAV through an Annual Performance Statement. To ensure that the EPAV is aware of any potential impacts, and that there is an appropriate response, reporting of non-compliances is a condition of our environmental licence.

In order to demonstrate our open and transparent approach with both the EPAV and the local community, we publish a table that lists our environmental monitoring and compliances, as well as any licence breaches, and update it regularly.

2018 Environmental Matters

Air Recycling Water
Date Activity Description Outcome
18 September 2018 A steam leak occurred creating noise A high-pressure steam leak as a result of a plant trip caused loud noise that could be heard outside the perimeter of the refinery. The EPA and refinery neighbours were notified. The leak was repaired and normal operations resumed.
3 July 2018 Emission exceeding sulphur dioxide licence limit During planned maintenance work, a unit at the refinery became unstable resulting in the stack sulphur limit being exceeded. There was no impact on the community. The EPA were notified in advance through a process known as a Section 30A approval, and approved the temporary increased emissions during the maintenance works. The specific exceedance was reported to the EPA.
17 June 2018 Contaminated storm water Following heavy rain, light spotting of hydrocarbon was observed near a storm water outfall next to the refinery.

There was no impact to wildlife or the environment.
The incident was reported to the EPA.
10 June 2018 Emission exceeding sulphur dioxide licence limit During planned maintenance work, a unit at the refinery became unstable resulting in the stack sulphur limit being briefly exceeded. There was no impact on the community. The EPA were notified in advance, through a process known as a Section 30A approval, of the potential for increased emissions during the maintenance works. The specific incident was reported to the EPA. The unit was stabilised and maintenance activities continued.
23 April 2018 Emission exceeding fluoride licence limit Regular on-site air quality monitoring found that fluoride emission briefly exceeded licence limits on one stack. The community or environment were not impacted, as continuous air monitoring adjacent to the refinery recorded no change to fluoride levels in the air. To assess the impact on the local community, analysis of air monitors situated on an adjoining property was undertaken. Analysis showed fluoride levels had not increased in these locations. The incident was reported to the EPA. Investigations undertaken found that the exceedance occurred while the unit was transitioning from one operational mode to another.
31 March 2018 Q2 water testing results 843 water outfall tests conducted on water discharged from the refinery. 100% of water tests within licence limits.
31 March 2018 Q2 sulphur dioxide air monitoring results Air quality is continuously measured and analysed for sulphur dioxide to ensure levels stay within clean air quality levels. 2208 hours monitored. Air quality in the ‘Very Good’ category 100% of the time.
31 March 2018 Q2 recycling statistics

Recycled water usage from Northern Water Plant.

266,000 litres received from Northern Water Plant, saving equivalent volume in local drinking water.

Recycled compost produced.

157 tonnes of sludge and other waste material recycled, diverted from offsite disposal.

Spent catalyst recycled.

359 tonnes sent for re-use in cement industry, diverted from landfill.

Spent caustic recycled.

445 tonnes sent to Northern Water Plant to feed biotreater, diverting from offsite disposal.
6 March 2018 Sediment in cooling water exceeded licence limit During routine sampling, total suspended solids (6 mg/L) in water exiting the refinery were higher than the licence limit. The incident was reported to the EPA. Investigations were undertaken. As a result, the sampling point has been re-located to obtain a representative sample.
8 February 2018 Emission exceeding sulphur dioxide licence limit During planned maintenance work, a unit at the refinery became unstable resulting in the stack sulphur limit being briefly exceeded. The incident was reported to the EPA. The unit was stabilised and maintenance activities continued.
6 February 2018 Sediment in cooling water exceeded licence limit During routine sampling, total suspended solids (13mg/L) in water exiting the refinery were higher than the licence limit. The incident was reported to the EPA. Investigations into the incident continue.
20 January 2018 Emission exceeding sulphur dioxide licence limit A unit at the refinery tripped resulting in the stack sulphur limit being briefly exceeded. The incident was reported to the EPA. The unit was returned to normal operations.

To learn more about our Geelong Refinery, read about it on our website.

Newport terminal

Our Newport terminal is subject to conditions set out in a licence issued by the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria (EPAV). Our licence requires a variety of monitoring systems, which provide data that we report annually to the EPAV.

Learn more about Newport Terminal in the Community

Learn more about our Newport Terminal.

Clyde and Parramatta terminals

The operations of our Clyde and Parramatta terminals are subject to conditions set out in the Environment Protection Licence (EPL 570) and Environment Protection Licence (EPL 660) issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA), under section 55 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). We report any issues and how we responded to the NSW EPA.

The Environment Protection Licences are available at NSW EPA website (EPL 570) and NSW EPA website (EPL 660).

Under these EPLs, we are required to collect and publically report monitoring data.

The data in this section of our website is provided in accordance with the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), section 66(6).

Clyde Terminal Environment Monitoring Data

The EPL describes various monitoring points across Clyde Terminal.

The data of these monitoring points can be downloaded below:

Parramatta Terminal Environmental Monitoring Data

The EPL describes monitoring points across Parramatta Terminal.

Learn more about Clyde and Parramatta Terminals in the Community

Gore Bay

The operations of our Gore Bay terminal are subject to the conditions set out in the Environment Protection Licence (EPL 661) issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) under section 55 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).

The Environment Protection Licence is available on the NSW EPA website.

Under this EPL, we are required to collect and publicly report monitoring data.

The data in this section of our website is provided in accordance with the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) section 66(6).

The EPL describes various monitoring points across Gore Bay Terminal:

The data of these monitoring points can be downloaded:

Learn more about Gore Bay Terminal in the Community

Emergency ready

Maintaining safe and reliable operations is critical for the success of our business, but we also carefully plan for what to do if things to go wrong, so we can act quickly.

All of our sites have comprehensive emergency response plans. These involve documenting procedures, staff training, maintaining a major hazards facility safety case where required, and conducting regular emergency exercises involving essential services, local councils, port authorities and other oil companies (where required).

Pollution Incident Response Management Plans
In New South Wales, the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Pollution Incident Response Management Plans) Regulation 2012 requires that a Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PIRMP) is prepared.

More information on the POEO Act and PIRMPs is available on the NSW EPA website.The objectives of these plans are to:

  • Ensure comprehensive and timely communication about a pollution incident to Viva Energy employees at either Gore Bay Terminal, Clyde Terminal and Parramatta Terminal, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), other relevant authorities specified in the Act (such as local councils, NSW Ministry of Health, WorkCover NSW, and Fire and Rescue NSW) and people outside the facility who may be affected by the impacts of the pollution incident.
  • Minimise and control the risk of a pollution incident at the facility, by requiring identification of risks and the development of planned actions to minimise and manage those risks.
  • Minimise and control the risk of a pollution incident at the facility, by requiring identification of risks and the development of planned actions to minimise and manage those risks.

The PIRMP for the Gore Bay, Clyde and Parramatta terminals can be downloaded below:

Download the Gore Bay Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PDF 1.6MB)

Download the Clyde Terminal Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PDF 216.1KB)

Download the Parramatta Terminal Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PDF 77.8KB)


Sustainable communities

Supporting our local community

We are committed to giving back to the local communities where we live and work.

We are investing in community projects that support mental health, Indigenous participation and substance misuse. We rely on our people, our business practices and our community connections to make this happen.

Click here to learn more about our community program.