Oil men look to the West

When the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company sent a letter to the WA Manager of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries stating that they were looking for a location to establish an oil refinery somewhere in Australasia  worth 40 million pounds – it was no time to panic! A significant development in Western Australia’s history would have been lost if the government officials at the time, led by the Premier Ross McLarty, had not acted quickly and decisively. The oil company representatives were seriously considering a site at Laverton in Victoria for their refinery when they were persuaded to visit Cockburn Sound. They were impressed with the potential of Western Australia, and came to an agreement with the WA government to build the refinery if the site and housing for the prospective employees was provided. Mr McLarty (later Sir Ross McLarty) signed the agreement on 4th March 1952 and was given the honour of turning the soil at the construction site the following January. Prior to the establishment of the refinery, Western Australia had been dependent on rural and mining industries.