Australia’s Ampol may shut Lytton oil refinery on slackening demand

Adds details on review, industry performance

Oct 8 (Reuters)Ampol Ltd ALD.AX said on Thursday it will consider closing its Lytton oil refinery in Queensland as part of a review into the facility which has been hard hit by coronavirus-led slump in demand for oil products.

Road and aviation fuels have been among the worst hit, pressuring refiners who had only recently returned to profitability after years of booking losses.

Ampol restarted the Lytton refinery in September after a four-month shut-down, but said on Thursday its year-to-date earnings loss had swelled to A$141 million ($101 million).

Under the review, it would consider closing or permanently transitioning the refinery to an import model, as well continuing existing operations and other alternate models of oepration. It would look at the necessary investments for each option.

The move by Ampol, formerly known as Caltex Australia, comes despite an offer from the Australian government of incentives worth A$2.3 billion to refiners to keep the country’s four remaining oil refineries open for the sake of national security.

Rival Viva Energy Group Ltd VEA.AX last month also warned it might shut its Victorian refinery given the dire long-term outlook for the industry.

($1 = 1.4002 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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