Ampol is betting on more electric vehicle drivers fast-charging at service station forecourts as the petroleum company navigates the energy transition, but is less upbeat about prospects for hydrogen.
Managing director and CEO Matt Halliday is also cautious about the emissions standard the government is starting to talk about as a way of getting more electric vehicles into Australia.
“A fuel emissions standard is likely to be one of the mechanisms used to make sure Australia is not being disadvantaged in its access to EVs,” he told analysts on Monday.
“What that will effectively mean is that there will be a higher price put on the existing fleet of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles that are sold in the country.”
He said tougher fuel efficiency standards should not be seen as a “silver bullet”.
“I think it’s going to be an important policy but it needs to be developed in the context of the supply chain challenges that exist.”
Mr Halliday said the car battery will play an important role in the home and wider energy system.
Ampol has its sights on energy needs at home and on the go and wants to sell electricity to some of the three million customers it serves per week in Australia.
Ampol has received an energy retailer authorisation from the Australian Energy Regulator and will shortly begin a pilot with 50 to 100 employees, which is designed to support an at-home charging offer.
“It’s not something we’re going to rush into, obviously the energy markets are quite challenging at the moment,” he said.
“But building the capability and getting on with our ‘test and learn’ processes is where we’re currently focused.”
Analysts said energy companies Origin and AGL have a subscription model for EV charging at home, at a much cheaper rate per hour than Ampol has in mind.
“The whole energy generation, transmission and retail market is going to be fundamentally disrupted,” Mr Halliday said.
As seen in other countries, destination charging is important, and offers attractive margins, he says.
“That network strength in underpinning our fuel business today, is going to be important in underpinning our competitive position in e-mobility in the future.”
Ampol, operator of Lytton oil refinery, earlier posted a surge in first-half earnings and a bumper dividend as its refining ran at full capacity during the energy crisis.
But Ampol said it had “paused” the Lytton hydrogen pilot with partner Fusion Fuel Green because it is not suitable as a site.
“We are considering different opportunities but we’re also being quite focused and realistic around the challenges of the economics of green hydrogen,” Mr Halliday said.
Ampol continues to have commercial discussions about hydrogen production and distribution but is not yet considering Kurnell in NSW as an alternative.
“We see hydrogen as a possible solution for long-haul heavy transport although other technologies may emerge,” he said.
“It’s not going to have material size and scale any time soon.”
Extracted from The Canberra Times