(EnergyAsia, May 30 2012, Wednesday) — ExxonMobil and Caltex said they are still looking to maintain their loss-making oil refining business in Australia, and would appreciate some support from the government.

ExxonMobil will likely report a loss for 2011, but expects to turn in a profit this year on improving margins for producing fuels and a rising US dollar against the local currency, according to The Australian newspaper.

The US major has expressed hope that the Australian government will consider helping the industry deal with the impact of its new carbon tax which will be implemented on July 1.

Together with rivals Caltex and Shell, ExxonMobil has criticised the new tax for reducing the competitiveness of Australia’s refining sector just as it is being threatened by the rise of large modern and sometimes state-subsidised export-oriented refineries in Asia and the Middle East.

The majors and industry watchers have warned that Australia’s growing dependence on imported fuels threatens the nation’s long-term security.

Earlier in May, Caltex said it may want to maintain at least one of its two refineries in Australia after the completion of a viability review. The country’s largest downstream company said its first quarter profit had fallen 10% to around A$69 million on account of poor margins.

Royal Dutch Shell said its Australian downstream business lost A$495 million last year on rising cost and a massive writedown of its Geelong refinery in Victoria state.