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 it operates. 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 (VOC recovery systems during the loading of petroleum products, particulate filters, etc.).
The Group strictly follows national and European legislation, as well as best practices, as exemplified by its compliance with the Best Available Techniques for the petroleum products sector and the European Industrial Emissions Directive, while it also applies 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, as well as making a substantial contribution to the improvement of air quality. In addition, a large proportion of the industrial facilities have a network of continuous emission monitoring systems, the data from which are analysed and the results are sent to the environmental authorities for monitoring and control purposes.
The approach followed, the investments made to improve air quality and the results achieved so far are considered particularly positive, taking into account the significant reduction in key air quality indicators in recent years and the corresponding reduction in quantitative air quality monitoring data in the surrounding areas.
The Group’s key objective is achieving continuous reduction in key air emission indicators (i.e. emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrous oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PMs) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in all Group business activities and wide acceptance of its significant contribution to the improvement of air quality in the areas surrounding the facilities.
At the Group’s three refineries, which constitute the main part of its production activity, the aim is to select the appropriate blend of fuels for self-consumption in order to achieve significant reductions in key air emissions.
In 2022, the impact on the energy market of the war in Ukraine and the risk reduction strategy linked to the overall security of supply resulted in a corresponding adjustment of the European refineries’ fuel blend for self-consumption and in particular the restriction of natural gas consumption. This effect at the Group’s refineries limited – in the short term – the trend towards reducing certain gas emissions, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2). More specifically, apart from the indicator for SO2 emissions, which increased by approximately 24% compared to 2021, and NOx emissions which remained at the same level (-3%), in 2022, PMs emissions decreased significantly due to the installation and operation, in the same year, of the new electrostatic precipitator filter (ESP) at the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC) of the Aspropyrgos refinery, while the reduction of VOC emissions from the overall operation of the refineries and the handling of their respective products continued. Over the last decade, the air emission indicators have shown a 33%, 38%, 46% and 49% reduction in SO2, NOx, PMs and VOC emissions respectively, as shown in the following graph.
Air emission indicators for Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM10) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) (kg emissions per tn throughput) 2013-2022
*PM index is multiplied by 10 for presentation purposes
Especially for the reduction of VOC emissions, Best Available Techniques are implemented in the storage and handling of products, such as secondary blockages on the floating roofs tanks’ ceilings, painting of the VOC tanks with white highly-reflective paint, loading of tankers from the bottom with simultaneous operation of a Vapor Recovery Unit. Furthermore, Vapor Recovery Systems operate at the tanker loading piers, while the implementation of regular preventive maintenance and early leak detection and repair (Leak Detection and RepairLDAR) programs on equipment (e.g. valves, gaskets, etc.) continues.
All of the above best practices have led to a significant reduction in VOC emissions over the last decade, which, as mentioned above, is more than 49%.
This improved performance is also reflected in the air quality measurements of the areas, as monitored by the Air Quality Measurement Stations of the Group’s facilities and by similar stations of the competent authorities (air quality reports from the municipalities and the competent Ministry of the 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 HELLENiQ ENERGY, the utilisation of materials and natural resources throughout their life cycle is an important business opportunity and reflects its commitment to environmental protection.
Water is an essential raw material in the production process of the Group’s facilities and, in this respect, the Group is committed to ensuring sustainable management of water resources and finding new solutions and best practices in water use management. Although our facilities are not located in areas characterised by a high risk of water scarcity, drought, water shortage or increased water stressed areas, to ensure sustainable water management, the Group aims to reduce the amount of water used in its operations, to reuse and recycle it as much as possible, and to dispose of it responsibly after treatment at its facilities to minimise impact. Water saving initiatives are continuously implemented across all business sectors. In 2022, water consumption is reduced by 33% compared to 2013, and water consumed, recycled and reused by 24% in production facilities.
Water Consumption & Recycling-Reuse 2013-2022
Specifically for sustainable water management, water use is monitored across the entire range of activities, identifying opportunities to reduce consumption and invest in water-saving systems so that the Group’s production facilities and cleaning processes become as efficient as possible.
The issues assessed relate directly to the water used (quality measurements, use of different types of water e.g. seawater for cooling, treatment technologies, etc.) but also to broader management parameters (availability, quality and ecosystems affected by discharge), so that all areas for improvement can be identified.
The main sources of water abstraction are the public network (83%) and the sea (14%). The water management system includes monitoring and reporting of water abstraction, quality and discharge at all facilities and subsidiaries in order to continuously improve efficiency and reduce not only the environmental footprint but also operating costs.
Petroleum materials – by-products that are classified as waste (self-produced or third party) at a stage of their life cycle represent a significant opportunity, and are used as raw material in the Group’s production facilities, but also as fuel materials, as per the principles of the circular economy.
HELLENiQ ENERGY’s strategic approach is based not only on the reduction of solid waste to landfills through investments in modern waste treatment plants, but also on the creation of synergies for the utilisation of waste for energy recovery and the review of alternative technologies of alternative technologies for its utilisation as raw materials, aiming at the substitution of 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 the operating costs of business activities.
In 2022, HELLENiQ ENERGY continued its efforts to reduce the production of liquid and solid waste, maximising 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 goal is to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills by up to 15% by 2030.
Modern waste treatment plants, such as the Group’s three-stage integrated wastewater treatment plants at its refineries, ensure continuous improvement in wastewater management performance. In line with the progress made in the last six years, the improvement in most waste and water indicators from all of the Group’s operations continued in 2022.
Specifically, in 2022, there was a slight increase (6.7%) in the amount of wastewater generated from all facilities compared to the previous year, which is mainly due to the change in the way additional amounts of wastewater from desalination are accounted for and included, and partly due to the development of circular economy synergies with third-party companies for additional wastewater treatment (slops) and an increase in the re-refining rate.
For HELLENiQ ENERGY, use of materials and natural resources throughout their entire life cycle is a significant business oportunity and reflects its commitment to environmental protection.
Effluents by facility 2013-2022
Solid waste by facility 2013-2022
In 2022, there was a significant reduction (30%) in the amount of waste generated compared to the previous year, which was accompanied by a high recovery rate as a result of adapting better recycling and recovery practices at the Group’s facilities, as shown in the following charts that present management – treatment methods of solid waste generated for the year 2022. In particular, as shown in 2022, more than 17,000 tons of waste, approximately 87% of the total, was either reused, recycled or further treated through a raw material recovery process. Also note that hazardous waste constitutes the majority of the total waste generated and almost all of it is recycled/recovered/ reused and diverted from final disposal.
Note that the quantities of solid waste per industrial facility depend for the most part on product tank cleaning and therefore vary from year to year, depending on the scheduling of tank maintenance and, secondarily, on the availability of solid waste treatment plants (either on-site or off-site).
Solid waste by disposal method
In addition, apart from the sector’s typical industrial waste, the unremitting effort continues in all HELLENiQ ENERGY facilities and offices, with the active participation of employees, to recycle as many waste streams as possible, such as paper, plastic, small batteries, accumulators, fluorescent lamps, electronic equipment, aluminium, etc. Specifically, in order to achieve effective source separation of all streams – metal, plastic, batteries, paper, food waste and common waste – and to increase the recycling rate, the implementation of the integrated Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management system at the Aspropyrgos Industrial Facilities continued in 2022 and the planning for its extension to the rest of the facilities is underway. In addition, during 2022, the Group expanded the use of “paperless” processes, such as electronic signatures, which resulted in a reduction in the handling of documents and envelopes and consequently a reduction in the use of 6,000 envelopes and the printing of 110,000 pages of paper, with a consequent reduction in the environmental footprint.
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 shows the quantities and percentages recovered (of the total throughput) from the Group’s refineries. It is noteworthy that since 2013, more than 1.66 million tons of oily wastewater have been rerefined.
The protection of ecosystems and biodiversity is an important part of HELLENiQ ENERGY’s corporate culture, which complies with the relevant legislative frameworks, applying international best practices in order to minimise any negative impacts of its activities and contribute to the national and European biodiversity strategy. Monitoring European trends and incorporating internationally recognised tools is expected to make a significant contribution to the implementation of innovative biodiversity conservation and management practices.
It is noted that the Group’s refinery facilities are located in industrial zone areas and are not adjacent to protected areas (e.g. Natura 2000, RAMSAR).
In the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) sector, HELLENiQ ENERGY complies with the institutional framework that encompasses the environmental impact assessment of RES projects, their monitoring during their operation and the implementation of defined measures for the protection, conservation and restoration of fauna and the environment (implementation of Environmental Impact Study, environmental licensing of projects, harmonisation with the Special Spatial-Planning Framework for RES, Law 4014/2011, Law 3937/2011 for the conservation of biodiversity and with the special Ministerial Decisions for protective measures in Special Protection Zones and Natura 2000 network, etc.).
At the same time, HELLENiQ ENERGY’s commitment to the development of the renewable energy sector (Vision 2025) promotes the Group’s significant contribution to public energy independence and security, the provision of cheap energy, the promotion of a cleaner environment and the fight against climate change through the reduction of emissions, which is achieved, among other things, by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Furthermore, in the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production sector in Greece, integrated management methods are applied, 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 the protection of marine species, 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), while a one-kilometre neutral zone is maintained in all relevant operations in cases of proximity.
Finally, note 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.