BP's Bulwer Island Refinery in Brisbane.
BP's Bulwer Island Refinery in Brisbane.

Hundreds of jobs to go as BP closes Bulwer Island refinery

BP will cut the jobs of up to 355 people from its Bulwer Island refinery in Brisbane between now and mid-2015 - slicing the number of workers by 95% and leaving just 25 employed as it shutters the plant.

Word of the closure broke early on Wednesday as the energy giant rushed to deliver the grave news to staff.

The factory - which produces 102,000 barrels per day - will be progressively shut down.

Bulwer Island managing director Tim Wall said he expected workers were qualified enough to find "alternative employment".

BP Australasia president Andy Holmes said new and bigger facilities in Asia made it hard for the Brisbane operation to compete.

"That is by far the biggest factor,'' he told media a short time ago.

He said Australian wages were not an issue in the decision.

Mr Holmes said even a huge investment would not have saved the Bulwer refinery.

BP said now its east coast markets will buy fuel from other refineries to be on-sold.

"While this decision will significantly improve our competitive position, it will result in job losses and I would like to acknowledge the enormous commitment and contribution made over many years by our staff at Bulwer Island.''

In a statement, BP said the import jetty, aviation fuel tanks and pipelines will continue to operate even after processing stops.

Other storage tanks and pipelines will be mothballed until a decision is made on the site's future.

The processing machinery will be isolated and made safe while plans for their eventual removal and any environmental remediation are developed.

About Bulwer Island Refinery

The Bulwer Island refinery was built on reclaimed land by Amoco between 1964 and 1965 and was bought by BP in 1984.

Over the years it has been subject to a number of modifications and improvements and in 2000 was significantly upgraded to produce low sulphur fuels.

The refinery has a capacity of around 102,000 barrels per day and produces petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, heating oil and LPG.