Heavy vehicle operators and owners in Australia have been offered a new environmentally-sensitive solution for the disposal of their waste lube oil.
The Northern Oil Refinery (NOR) near Gladstone in central Queensland will source and re-refine up to 100 million litres of waste lube oil a year for reuse as lube oil in the automotive, transport, mining and agricultural sectors. This home-grown environmental solution not only will lessen the need for oil imports into Australia by recycling waste lube oil for reuse by Australian industry, but also allow Australian truck owners and fleet managers to dispose of their waste lube oil at no extra cost to current disposal and recycling practices.
Additionally, the NOR has created more than 40 full time equivalent jobs and many more indirect jobs.
A joint venture between Southern Oil and J.J Richards and Sons, the re-refinery is the only facility capable of recycling waste lube oil back into base lube oil in Queensland.
Southern Oil has been processing waste lube oils from Hunter Valley mines, vehicle service centres and other commercial generators into international standard re-refined lube oil at its plant in Wagga Wagga, NSW, since 2001.
Southern Oil Managing Director Tim Rose said the new $65 million Northern Oil Refinery signalled the next generation in waste oil management. Presenting a fantastic environmental opportunity for Australian industry, the refinery means Australia will need to import less base oil from offshore, enabling an Australian manufacturer to support Australian industries.
Mr Rose sought strong support from waste oil producers such as heavy vehicle fleets, mines and local governments to direct their waste lube oil to be re-refined, rather than burned and wasted. Though Australia imports 95% of its base oil requirement for lube oil, mainly from the Middle East via Asian refineries, just 5% was provided through re-refining waste lube oil.
In actual figures, this amounted to about 350 million litres of waste lube oil being collected in Australia every year. However, 60% is burned and 24% is exported to be burned overseas. Burning destroys a valuable commodity and permanently removes lube oil from productive use. Waste oil is also a hazardous substance that has enormous potential to do harm if not collected and treated properly.
Besides, burning waste lube oil as fuel destroys a valuable commodity and releases large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Each tonne of oil burned releases 2.92 tonnes of CO2e into the environment; therefore if all of Australia’s collected waste oil was re-refined instead of burned, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by about 1 million tonnes per year.
At full operational capacity, the Gladstone plant will reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 290,000 tonnes every year and will offset the average Australian’s lifetime production of greenhouse gas emissions every two days.
With the opening of the Gladstone re-refinery, Southern Oil will be able to process 38% of Australia’s waste lube oil sourced from the 84% that is burned, and help reduce Australia’s reliance on oil imports.
To achieve its re-refining goals, Southern Oil needs to secure reliable volumes of waste lube oil feedstock for its Gladstone re-refinery. By ensuring their waste oil is sent for re-refining, truck fleets, heavy vehicle operators, mines and local governments can achieve the highest environmental standards and also demonstrate their commitment to Australian manufacturing and Australian jobs.
According to Mr Rose, Southern Oil employs more than 75 locals at the Wagga Wagga and Gladstone facilities, and supports upstream and downstream jobs in both regions and across the east coast of Australia.
The Queensland re-refinery will produce no waste with every component of the waste lube oil reused and 99 per cent of the lube oil component recovered as high quality lube oil for re-use, making the recovery process the most environmentally responsible treatment of waste lube oil.