The good oil on recycling

Southern Oil Refinery managing director Tim Rose on the future site of the company’s recycling facility.
Southern Oil Refinery managing director Tim Rose on the future site of the company’s recycling facility. David Sparkes GLASOUT

MOST of Gladstone's industrial news focuses on coal, alumina and LNG.

That's an impressive spread, but there are still those who call for even greater industrial diversity in the region to safeguard against a downturn in any one sector.

It is always good to see a different industry arrive in town, and here is something completely different.

Southern Oil Refinery announced two weeks ago it had come to a final investment decision on a new facility to re-refine used lubricant oil.

When the company's managing director Tim Rose stood alongside Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser, on Landing Rd in Yarwun, not only was he announcing what looks like a smart business move, he was also adding a left-field ingredient to the region's industrial landscape.

There is no other oil re-refinery in Queensland, and only a couple of others in Australia (one of those is owned by Southern Oil Refinery in NSW).

"We're happy to be a small part of the Gladstone landscape," Mr Rose said.

"We looked around for the right place to be and Gladstone just felt right."

Mr Rose said Queensland used more lubricant oil than any state in Australia.

At the moment, all of that oil is collected and burned, or disposed of incorrectly.

He said there was an opportunity to put that old oil to good use.

"At the moment in Queensland, we believe there is about 70 million litres of lubricant oil that are being collected and burned," he said.

"We're hoping to start at getting about 50 million litres of that.

"We're hoping that as the mines in this state continue to expand we will be able to expand this facility to 100 million litres.

"That's the size we're building this plant to."

Most people are surprised to learn that lubricant oil never wears out and can be recycled endlessly.

"The only reason you have to change the oil in your car is because the additives run out," Mr Rose said.

He believes it is possible that one day all of Australia's used lubricant oil will be recycled.


Southern Oil Refinery

The sump oil will mainly be collected from mining companies, but also domestic vehicles

The new plant is worth $30 million and will employ about 30 staff

Processing old oil into usable lubricant oil takes just three hours

Construction should start next May

The plant will be fully operational by the end of 2013

Topics:  southern oil refinery

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