Long Island Point marks an excellent half century

On September 21, 50 years ago the Prime Minister of Australia, John Gorton, officially opened the Esso/BHP Long Island Point (LIP) Fractionation Plant.

Guests at the Long Island Point Plant opening ceremony reflected the national and international significance of the event. They included several state and federal government ministers; local government dignitaries from municipalities across Esso’s area of operations, the Chairman of Standard Oil Company, New Jersey, (Exxon); Chairman of BHP; the US Ambassador; Japanese Consul-General; and a number of senior managers representing customers in Japan.

Prime Minister Gorton paid tribute to the enterprise of Esso and BHP in their venture into Bass Strait and the success that resulted in the Gippsland operations, including the LIP plant.

“Great risks had to be taken in order to bring this to fruition. Great amounts of capital had to be found with no certainty of return, indeed with probably a less than 50 per cent chance of return,” he said.

“The risks were equally shared between an Australian and an American company. The rewards are not so equally shared. Because close to 50 per cent of profits made, rewards gained, flow directly to the Australian people in the form of company taxation or royalties or other payments.

“We are getting all these benefits. We are not paying for them in any exorbitant way. And I only hope that people throughout Australia will realise the risks that have been taken, will recognise the right to the rewards that come from those risks, will thoroughly understand the benefit to this nation which will flow from this co-operative enterprise.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Bass Strait fields would only last 20 years, so the nation needed to attract ongoing exploration venture capital to meet the country’s growing petroleum needs.

The fact that LIP and the Gippsland operations continue to be a vital source of energy and industrial feedstock half a century later is the result of continuing capital investments leveraging advances in technology.

“For me the story of LIP has always been about the people,” said LIP Manager David McCord. “For 50 years we have provided highly skilled jobs for the Mornington Peninsula community.

“It makes me truly proud to think of how many families have grown up around jobs provided by LIP and our Gippsland operations in general.

“On top of the direct jobs we provide here at LIP, our products fuel jobs throughout the wider community, nationally and even internationally.

“Thousands of manufacturing jobs in Melbourne rely on us. We send oil down the pipeline to the Mobil and Viva refineries in Melbourne’s west. We send ethane to Qenos chemical plant in the west, and there are hundreds of companies that rely on Qenos products for their businesses.

“We also send LPG into the Victorian and NSW market as well as New Zealand and across Asia.

“Few people appreciate how much remote Pacific Island nations rely on our LPG shipments to fuel their industrial and commercial business and as well as cooking for their homes.”

David said that throughout its history, LIP had been an active and engaged member of the local community.

“We always ensure that we are in touch with the views and concerns of our many stakeholders,” he said.

“We have a proud history of actively supporting community organisations, including schools, emergency responders, environmental and social groups.

“I don’t believe we could have achieved all we have without the continuous support of our community.”

Gippsland Production Manager (and a former LIP Manager) Stuart Jeffries said that LIP was one of the most important industrial plants in the country.

“The outstanding success of this plant is the result of its agility in adapting to the changing nature of hydrocarbons coming from Bass Strait and the changing needs of its customers,” he said.

“We have operated safely and successfully in this sensitive environment for half a century thanks to the quality and dedication of our people, past and present, including our contractors and our many suppliers. Our success is also due to the support we have received from government and our community.

“Today we continue to invest to adapt LIP to the changing nature of our Gippsland operations and ensure it continues to play a vital role in meeting energy needs and supporting jobs into the future.”