Worries over petrol supplies as local refinery closes

Now could be the best time to consider investing in alternative-fuel and green cars to reduce fleet fuel consumption as BP announces plans to close its Bulwer Island oil refinery.

Local refineries currently supply around 60 per cent of petroleum products required by Australia's major industries and petrol stations, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum.

In 2002, there were eight major oil refineries in operation across Australia yet only four are still open, according to an April 3 report from The Australian. The first closure occurred in 2003 in South Australia, followed by Shell's refinery in New South Wales in 2013. The Caltex facility in the same state is expected to close later this year.

Once the Brisbane-based BP refinery ceases operations in mid-2015, industry analysis shows Australia's reliance on imported petrol will climb by almost a third. This is troubling news for those working in industries reliant on fuel products.

If you're a fleet manager in Australia, petrol is most likely a necessity to ensure your business remains functional. If Australia was to become more dependent on fuel imports, it is possible that petrol prices would climb.

In particular, if adverse weather or other global events caused any delays in delivery to Australian ports, local petrol stations would have to increase their prices dramatically, could burn through their reserves and cars around the country could run dry. Additionally, if damage or suspension occurs in Australia, the domestic supply of petrol could also be affected.

The impact of these events was experienced in late 2012, when fierce storms halted production at the Geelong refinery, resulting in severe diesel shortages in Western Victoria.

For drivers and companies willing to reduce vehicle fuel consumption by investing in alternative fuel cars, this potential issue may not have a significant impact. Full electric or hybrid cars can reduce the amount of petrol required to operate your fleet, significantly reducing costs.