The Group’s objective is to continuously reduce air emissions and improve its environmental footprint, thereby also contributing to the improvement of air quality in the areas where we operate. This is achieved through actions such as maximising the use of fuel gases, using fuels with higher environmental standards, investing in modern production technologies (e.g. low nitrogen oxide burners) and directly reducing emissions (volatile organic compound recovery systems when loading petroleum products, particulate filters, etc.).
The Group strictly follows national and European legislation, as well as best practices, with representative example being its compliance with Best Available Techniques for the petroleum sector and the European Industrial Emissions Directive, while also implementing certified environmental management systems throughout its business activities.
Air emissions from the operation of all industrial facilities are monitored in accordance with the environmental operating conditions of each facility, ensuring strict compliance with the statutory emission limits and making a substantial contribution to improving air quality.
The approach followed, the investments made in this direction and the results achieved so far are considered particularly positive, taking into account the significant reduction in key air emission indicators in recent years and the corresponding records of quantitative air quality monitoring data in the neighbouring areas.
The Group’s key objective is to achieve a continuous reduction in air emission indicators across all Group activities and wide acceptance of our significant contribution to improving the air quality of local communities.
The Group’s three refineries, which constitute the main part of its production activity, have maximised the use of fuel gases for self-consumption as well as natural gas, thus minimising the use of liquid fuels and achieving significant reductions in sulphur dioxide (SO2 ), nitrogen oxide (NOX ) and particulate matter (PM) emissions.
In 2021, the exposure of European refineries to the highly volatile conditions of the natural gas supply chain resulted in a corresponding adjustment of fuel blends for self-consumption with limited impact on air emission indicators as well. Between 2015 and 2021, a general downward trend in key air emissions of sulphur dioxide-SO2, nitrogen oxides-NOX and PM10 particulate matter (kg of emissions per tn throughput) is shown, with PM emissions affected by the reduction in natural gas use for limited periods in 2021 (compared to the previous year). In particular, air emission indices registered a 39%, 21% and 8% decrease respectively in the last six years, 2015-2021, as shown in the following diagram.
Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) & Particulate Matter (PM10) Incides
(kg Emissions per tn Throughout)
Specifically in the case of particulate matter and with the aim of achieving further emission reductions, in 2021 the infrastructure works for the operation of the electrostatic precipitator (ESP) filter at the Aspropyrgos refinery’s catalytic cracking unit was largely completed and in 2022 it is expected to contribute significantly in reducing the relevant particulate matter emission index.
At the same time, and specifically for the reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions, Best Available Techniques have been implemented in the storage and handling of products, such as, for example, secondary barriers on the floating roof tanks’ ceilings, painting of the VOC tanks with white high reflectivity paint, tanker loading from the bottom with simultaneous operation of a Vapour Recovery Unit. Furthermore, new Vapour Recovery Systems have been installed at the tanker loading berths, while the implementation of regular preventive maintenance and early leak detection and repair (Leak Detection and Repair-LDAR) programs on equipment (e.g. valves, gaskets, etc.) continues.
All of the above practices have resulted in a significant reduction in VOC emissions of more than 45% over the past three years. These improving performances are also reflected in the air quality measurements of the areas, as monitored by our facilities’ Air Quality Measurement Stations and by similar stations of the competent authorities (air quality reports from municipalities and the competent Ministry of Environment and Energy). Note that the air quality measurements include/ correspond to the contribution of all air emission sources in the area, such as transport and other industrial activities.
For the HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group, the utilization of materials and natural resources throughout their life cycle is an important business opportunity and a response to its commitment to environmental protection. Petroleum materials – byproducts that are classified as waste (self produced or third-party) at one stage of their life cycle represent a significant opportunity, and are utilized as raw material in the Group’s production facilities, but also as fuel material, in line with the principles of the circular economy.
The Group’s strategic approach is based not only on the reduction of solid waste sent to landfill sites through investments in modern waste treatment plants, but also on the creation of synergies for the utilization of waste for energy recovery and the exploration of alternative technologies for its utilization as raw materials, aiming at substituting fossil fuel raw materials. The continuous reduction of the quantity of waste for final disposal contributes significantly not only to minimising the negative impact on the environment and human health but also to reducing business activities’ operating costs.
In 2021, the Group continued its efforts to reduce the production of liquid and solid waste, maximizing recycling for as many waste streams as possible and then, for the remaining waste streams, managing them on-site in the best possible way for the environment and human health. The ultimate aim is to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by up to 15% by 2030.
Modern waste treatment plants, such as the Group’s three-stage integrated wastewater treatment plants at the refineries, ensure continuous performance improvement in terms of wastewater management. In line with the progress of the last six years, the improvement in the majority of waste and water indicators from all of the Group’s operations continued in 2021.
In particular, 2021 saw a slight decrease in wastewater generation from all facilities compared to the previous year.
Liquid Waste by Facility (2015-2021)
Regarding solid waste, in 2021 there was a decrease in the total amount generated and treated compared to the previous year at all of the Group’s facilities. It should be noted that solid waste quantities per industrial facility are for the most part dependent on product tank cleaning and, therefore, vary from year to year, depending on tank maintenance scheduling and, secondarily, on the availability of solid waste treatment plants (either on-site or off-site).
Solid Waste by Facility (2015-2021)
Although there was a decrease in the amount of waste generated, this was accompanied by a notable increase in the recovery rate as a result of adopting better recycling and recovery practices at the Group’s facilities, as shown in the following charts that present management – recovery methods of solid waste generated for the year 2021. In particular, as indicated in 2021 almost 26,000 tons of waste, approximately 91% of the total, was reused, recycled or further recovered through a raw material recovery process. Also note that hazardous waste constitutes almost half of the total waste generated and almost all of it is recovered and diverted from final disposal.
Solid Waste by Disposal Method
In addition, apart from the sector’s typical industrial waste, relentless effort continues to recycle as many waste streams as possible, such as paper, plastic, small batteries, accumulators, fluorescent lamps, electronic equipment, aluminium, etc. in all the Group’s facilities and offices, with the active participation of employees. In 2021, the model project of an integrated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management system at the Aspropyrgos Industrial Facilities continued for a third year and planning is underway for its expansion, initially at the Elefsina Industrial Facilities, with the aim of achieving separation at the source of all waste streams – metal, plastic, batteries, paper, food waste and common waste – and increasing recycling rates.
For the oil refinery sector, in particular, the percentage of petroleum waste recovered and returned to the production process as raw material for re-refining is also monitored. These quantities of waste come both from the production process and from third parties. The table below presents the quantities and percentages recovered (of the total throughput) from the Group’s refineries. It is noteworthy that since 2015, more than 1.11 million tons of oily wastewater have been re-refined.
Water is an essential raw material in the production process of our facilities. To ensure sustainable water management, the Group aims to reduce the amount of water consumed through its activities, to reuse and recycle it as much as possible, and to dispose of it responsibly, after appropriate treatment, in order to minimize the negative environmental impact on the receiving end. Water saving initiatives are continuously implemented in all business sectors and water consumed is forwarded for recycling and reuse. Specifically, for 2021, while there was a slight decrease in the total volume of water consumption, the recycling and reuse rate in production facilities remained at a high rate of 26%.
Water Consumption & Recycling-Reuse (2015-2021)
More specifically, water use is monitored to identify opportunities to reduce consumption and plan investments in water-saving processes to ensure that production facilities and cleaning processes achieve high efficiency. Through the evaluation of processes directly related to the water used [quality measurements, use of different types of water (e.g. seawater for cooling, treatment technologies, etc.)], but also broader management parameters (availability, quality), the identification of areas in the Group’s facilities that require improvement in terms of water management and the planning of related actions is facilitated.
The main sources of water abstraction in 2021 are the public network (84%) and the sea (13%). The water resources management system includes monitoring and reporting of water abstraction and water quality at all facilities and subsidiaries in order to continuously improve the efficiency of natural resource use.
The protection of ecosystems and biodiversity is an important part of the Group’s corporate culture, which complies with the relevant legislative frameworks, applying international best practices in order to minimise any negative impact of its activities and contributing to the national and European biodiversity strategies. The monitoring of European trends and the integration of internationally recognised tools are expected to make a significant contribution to the implementation of innovative biodiversity conservation and management practices.
It is important to note that the Group’s refinery facilities are located in industrial zone areas and are not adjacent to protected areas (e.g. Natura 2000, RAMSAR).
Furthermore, in the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production sector in Greece, integrated management methods are applied accordingly, which incorporate international standards for the safe execution of projects of a similar nature, with respect to environmental biodiversity (International Oil & Producers – IOGP and International Association of Geophysical Contractors – IAGC). The Group, taking into account marine ecosystems, pays particular attention to the conditions for marine species and wildlife protection, fully complying with the requirements of the “ACCOBAMS” treaty and the guidelines of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) for the protection of cetaceans. Current geophysical operations within the context of exploration activities are not carried out within protected areas (Natura 2000 or other Special Areas of Conservation for Marine Fauna and Nature Conservation Areas) and a one-kilometre neutral zone is maintained in all relevant operations in cases of proximity.
Finally, it is noted that no species included in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species are found in the areas of the Group’s facilities.