I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to come and meet with us to discuss our business. I really do appreciate the interest you are showing in the work we do here and I am very grateful for the opportunity to hear about what’s on your mind.
We recognize the importance of collaborating with our community in everything that we do. We are always looking for opportunities to improve our operations and deliver flawless performance and an important part of that involves being a good neighbour – a valued member of our community.
The pathway to being a good neighbour is via understanding. And we achieve this by listening to what you have to say through events such as this, but also by going out to the community and canvassing your views.
That’s just what we did this year with our Community Survey. We conduct these surveys every three years and I have to say I was very pleased to hear that:
• Overall more than 60% of you rated LIP as good or excellent.
• And more than 80% rated us as the same or better than 3 years ago.
But we also clearly have some work to do, particularly around communications.
We completed a major maintenance shutdown in February which resulted in significant increases in flaring while the work was being done. While we carefully planned this work to minimise impacts on the environment and our local community, nevertheless it clearly caused some concerns in the community.
We have taken your feedback onboard and have already taken steps to increase our monitoring and communications during such events so that we can better reassure the community that this flaring is unfortunately necessary and is not a cause for concern.
The good news is that not only was the shutdown a success, we have also started engineering works for an upgrade to our compressors. These improvements will set us up for smooth, reliable operations into the future.
I am hoping to see this reflected in our next community survey.
As a vital part of our Gippsland oil and gas production operations, our Long Island Point facility is an economic asset of national significance. We take a great deal of pride in the fact we have been operating successfully for so long on the edge of Western Port, an important Ramsar designated wetland for migratory birds.
This year one of our environmental engineers published a peer-reviewed paper along with two environmental scientists about our wastewater discharges into Western Port titled Five Years On: Monitoring of Long Island Point’s Western Port Wastewater Discharge.
This study showed that our treated wastewater discharge has had no adverse impact on key environmental indicators in Western Port over a long-term study period. I find the quality of the scientific expertise we work with within our organisation, within the regulators and within the industry here is world class.
This is reassuring as we work to ensure we continue to minimize our impact on the environment and the community.
We have recently completed a new pipeline running Longford to our plant here in Hastings, and I want to particularly thank members of our community who contributed to making that project such a success. This is a key part of our ongoing program of investing to renew our facilities for the future.
With such strong demand for our products, we’re investing in our operations to ensure we can continue supplying the much needed gas to heat homes, fuel stoves and particularly here from Long Island Point, supply LPG for your car, your BBQ and many other everyday uses.
While we are continuing to contribute to the national economy, we will continue to ensure we are a valued member of our local community.
This year I spent a day with one of our volunteer teams constructing planter boxes for “The Garden” in Hastings. We put in a very productive day’s work and it gave me feeling of great satisfaction. We assembled planter boxes made by the Men’s Shed, which is a fantastic network that we are developing a relationship with at a number of our sites.
Our most valuable volunteer initiative continues to be our Volunteer Involvement Program (VIP). This provides an opportunity for the company to support our employees' volunteering efforts. Once again a number of these grants went to community organisations, emergency service volunteers, and schools in our area. Overall, the program has supported over $1.7 million in community grants since its inception.
One area of our community investment program which I am particularly passionate about is our focus on education. Education is fundamental to providing individual opportunity. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, in particular, are critical to ensuring today’s students are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
Here in our community, Esso has a long history of supporting local schools. From purchasing new technology such as iPads, the latest programming, coding and robotics kits, to funding laboratory and science resources, Esso’s aim is to boost our local school’s capability in maths and science.
This year we provided over $80,000 to enhance science and maths education at 23 local schools across Gippsland, South Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula through our Gippsland Bright Future Grants program.
In the past year, I have visited a number of schools to see their science programs in action. I was particularly impressed with Westernport Secondary College’s program to provide access to their facilities to surrounding primary schools. I hope to continue these opportunities into the future to see the STEM projects in action.
We always strive to be a valued member of our community and have developed many longstanding community partnerships which many of you in the audience can attest to.
For the first time in a number of years, we hosted a group of Westernport VCAL students for an afternoon at the plant where they met with various maintenance and operations technicians as well as visiting our workshops and laboratory. I also enjoyed meeting the female members of both Somerville and Westernport Secondary schools at the International Women’s Day Breakfast hosted by the Rotary Club of Mornington.
From local primary and secondary schools, hospitals and emergency response organisations such as CFAs, to community festivals, Rotary clubs and environmental groups, we hope to continue making a positive impact in our community.