The New Zealand Refining Company (NZRC) is marking its 50th anniversary this evening (Tuesday 4 October) by setting out its stall as a vital piece of strategic national infrastructure, calling for more in-depth discussion about the country’s energy strategy and urging greater local investment in its Marsden Point refinery.
Chief executive Ken Rivers will make the points at an anniversary event in the Parliament building in Wellington. He will promise greater engagement with business and government to explore likely global fuel supply scenarios, how the country’s energy strategy fits with these, and the role NZRC will play in preserving the country’s energy independence.
"For years we've been quietly tucked away near Whangarei, focusing on being technically excellent at boiling oil," he said today. "But, with the global oil sector changing rapidly and around 40 percent of this country's energy demand met by oil products, we will have an increasingly strategic role to play in meeting New Zealand’s future energy needs and helping safeguard her national interests."
This was a vital role that needed to be better understood by legislators, the investment community and a wide range of other stakeholders, Rivers said.
NZRC's facility at Marsden Point in Northland is the country's only refinery and enjoys a reputation as one of Asia Pacific's safest and most reliable. It supplies all of the country's jet fuel, three quarters of all diesel, around half of all petrol, 75 – 85 percent all the bitumen used in roading, and all its fuel oil.
The refinery aims to be New Zealand’s supplier of choice for oil products and currently competes with refineries across Asia and the Pacific. It seeks to provide between 50 and 80 percent of New Zealand's fuel needs by being the most competitive source of supply in terms of reliability, cost and environmental footprint.
The company has invested significantly in infrastructure and capacity development to achieve this. In 2005 it upgraded the refinery in order to remove sulphur from diesel and benzene from petrol, allowing cleaner fuels to be produced.
In 2009 a $191 million expansion project boosted crude oil distillation capacity.
It's currently reviewing a $400-500 million project designed to increase substantially the refinery's share of the domestic motor gasoline (mogas) market. Investment in new process units would increase its reliability and throughput, and increase New Zealand's self-reliance for high-quality transport fuel products. An investment proposal is to be presented to the NZRC's Board in the first quarter of next year.
"There's no better way to secure New Zealand's future fuel security than by investing in solid infrastructure and we're certain there's an appetite for that out there," Rivers said.
He also expressed eagerness to broaden NZRC's 4,000-strong shareholder base to help ensure greater financial and strategic stability. Existing large shareholders include four of the company's largest customers; BP New Zealand, Mobil Oil, Chevron New Zealand and Z Energy.
"We’ve seen New Zealanders take a greater stake in this country's energy infrastructure with Infratil and the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation investing in the refinery through Z Energy," Rivers said. "We know Kiwi investors are looking for stable, secure and enduring investment opportunities so this is something we’d like to see more of, as and when shares become available."
As part of this drive to better engage with stakeholders and the community about NZRC's place in the country's energy strategy, and to attract investment from a wider range of shareholders, Rivers will this evening unveil new branding that will underline the company's role as a vital part of New Zealand's economic fabric.
NZRC will remain formally registered as The New Zealand Refining Company but will be branded as Refining NZ from 9 October.
The company's logo will change from an abstract design denoting the crude oil refining process to a spherical shape in red, orange and yellow comprising a number of hexagons, evoking the honeycomb pattern of a beehive.
The movement from dark to lighter colours represents the refining process and the hexagons are for the hydrocarbon at the base of all the company's products. The way they interlock represents the role the refinery plays in connecting New Zealanders.
"The new branding captures with elegant simplicity the complexity of our business and the way it's woven into the essential fabric of the nation, interconnecting with the basic stuff of everyday life," Rivers said. "We are truly New Zealand's energy hive – producing this vital resource for the country."
"We’re a confident Kiwi company vital to the economy," Rivers said. "Our smart thinking, refining know-how and passion are what will fuel New Zealand’s future. Our new branding conveys this perfectly."
Refining NZ operates New Zealand’s only oil refinery at Marsden Point near Whangarei. The refinery is the nation’s leading supplier of refined petroleum products. Oil companies BP, Chevron, Mobil and Z Energy are significant shareholders and customers. Refining NZ is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange as The New Zealand Refining Company Ltd (NZR).