“For the HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group, Health, Safety and the Environment have always been its most significant priorities”
The HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group incorporates Sustainable Development into its strategic planning and is committed through its Policy on Health, Safety, the Environment and Sustainable Development, which aims to ensure safe, accident-free and economically viable operation, while respecting the environment and society, in line with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group, due to the nature of its activities, faces a series of risks in its daily operations, with regard to the use of hazardous and flammable substances and other technical challenges in all production installations and distribution facilities (for oil and other products) which are of considerable complexity and significant size. Failure to manage these risks could potentially have a considerable impact on the Group’s operation and financial position, including administrative penalties and/or inability to carry out its activities.
With regard to risk management related to health, safety and environmental issues, the Group uses a series of procedures to manage and mitigate risk during equipment design and operation phases, which are monitored using Key performance indicators (KPIs). At the same time, it actively participates in international organizations for benchmarking and comparison with the European oil and petrochemical industry as well as for establishing best practices with the aim of improving the Group’s performance in health, safety and environment.
In addition, the HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group regularly assesses compliance to relevant procedures and health, safety and environment management performance in each facility, not only through internal audits carried out by trained and experienced staff, but also through independent audits carried out by accredited external certification bodies. At the same time, it monitors the progress of its health, safety, environment and energy indicators (KPIs), which are included in the Group’s periodic reports, as well as management’s performance evaluation criteria.
For the HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group, Health and Safety are its most significant priorities. An overall approach to risk management of issues related to Health and Safety, includes planned initiatives and preventive measures to eliminate hazards and improve performance. At the same time, it includes management systems, inspections and actions to strengthen leadership, in all Group activities. Additionally, the Group takes all required safety measures for employees, external partners and visitors in all facilities, in alignment with the UN’s international Sustainability Goal for Good Health (SDG 3).
The Group continuously invests in prevention, infrastructure, improvement – revising procedures and aligning them with current standards and best practices, while constantly investing in personnel and partners training in Health and Safety to ensure compliance with the strictest criteria at a national and European level. Indicatively, in 2020, approximately 13 million euros were invested in safety improvements in all Group facilities across Greece and internationally, further to activities carried out for equipment/unit revamps and upgrades.
All Group facilities set objectives to control and improve their performance in Health and Safety issues, with reporting and appraisal carried out periodically. Objectives on specific safety indicators are set and monitored based on CONCAWE’s proposals.
In 2020, in the context of the Group’s Holistic Safety program, all remaining system gaps were addressed, by issuing new and improving existing significant safety procedures as well as critical best practices for the three refineries and other Group facilities.
In addition to key actions taken toward Health and Safety, the Group immediately and effectively managed the COVID-19 pandemic crisis through coordinated actions mandated by the COVID-19 Pandemic Management Policy in all activities and levels in the organization. The HELPE Group Policy for the prevention and management of issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic was immediately drafted, in accordance with National Public Health Organization (NPHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) instructions and revised according to necessity and new scientific data.
This Policy applies to all personnel employed in HELLENIC PETROLEUM premises and facilities and its subsidiaries, as well as all third-party employees, project contractors, services or equipment and commercial partners that come to the Group's premises to carry out their business.
The ultimate objective of the Policy is to establish a common and uniform framework to address COVID-19 issues, in order to protect the health of the company’s employees and to maintain uninterrupted operation.
Key direct actions taken include:
- setting up a Group Coordination Committee, responsible for managing crises that may arise when there are confirmed cases and for proposing measures and actions to address and limit their impact
- establishment of a subsequent Crisis Management Committees at a local level, by organizational structure, responsible for the management of confirmed cases and day-today operational issues in the organizational units
- enhanced organizational and technical prevention measures (as mentioned in the section: “COVID-19 pandemic impact, measures and future planning”)
Regular and accurate employee information regarding prevention and protection measures, as well as the immediate implementation of Group actions – decisions, played an important role in the timely prevention and management of the crisis.
At the same time, the Coordination Committee ensures external information and instructions from the competent public authorities, as well as any material that can support and reinforce prevention and management, whilst also monitoring optional/advisory provisions, as well as mandatory ones that have direct or indirect application to the Group.
Finally, the Group’s COVID SHIELD certification was carried out by an independent thirdparty verifier confirming that the Management System for Preventive Measures of the COVID-19 pandemic is in place in all Group facilities and head offices, with adequate resources and proper infrastructure in line with current epidemiological guidelines.
In 2020, the process safety incident rate - which is a key process safety indicator - decreased compared to the last two years and the target set was achieved. In particular, in 2020, out of a total of 10,763,788 man-hours, there were 32 lost work days injuries registered for staff and external partners implementing the largest full turnaround project at the Aspropyrgos refinery, with a 2.5-month duration, involving almost 3,000 workers at the peak of the works.
The graphs below show the trends in the basic safety key performance indicators (KPIs).
In 2020, the target set for reporting and investigating near misses was achieved, which is a key leading indicator for H&S performance across all Group facilities.
In the context of establishing a common Safety Culture at all Group facilities, basic H&S training continued (which includes fire safety, first aid, rescue techniques, basic safety procedures, best practices, etc.). Training extends to external partners’ contractors, visitors, tank truck drivers and service station operators in accredited training centers.
It is important to highlight that in 2020, training man-hours of own staff and contractors increased by 17%% in relation to the previous year (approximately 58,300 training man-hours for 2020).
Also, the Safety Culture Assessment that began in 2020 in the three refineries and in domestic marketing, will be continued in 2021 in international marketing, with the aim of performing a gap analysis and planning corrective measures. The Safety Culture assessment is an internationally significant leading H&S indicator.
Finally, in 2020, safety audits/safety visits (equally important leading Health and Safety Indicators) carried out throughout all activities, achieved the targets set at the beginning of the year.
The HELLENIC PETROLEUM Group, as an energy products producer and at the same time a significant energy consumer, faces significant challenges in the energy sector with regards to climate change. Specifically, Climate Change affects our business activity, creating significant challenges and opportunities. Potential risks and opportunities for the Group's business activities indicatively include cost management for the participation in the European Emissions Trading System – EU ETS and the pertinent legislative changes, but also the opportunity to accelerate energy efficiency projects, investment - project feasibility studies focusing on RES and increasing the portfolio that will lead towards climate neutrality.
The first step to effectively plan the Group's actions/strategy is to record and manage the risks and opportunities that exist, both in terms of mitigating climate change and in terms of strategically adapting to its impacts. Increased costs for fuels and raw materials, reduced demand for energy intensive products as well as additional measures to control and limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions comprise critical issues that are examined and analyzed through various pillars such as existing and forthcoming legislation, new technologies as well as markets in which the Group operates. At the same time, international forecasts on the energy market and climate change are analyzed in order to develop the Group's long-term strategy.
In particular, the Group has set the improvement of its environmental footprint until 2030 as its main strategic goal. The main contribution will be the decarbonization program of its key activities, with a reduction of emissions by 30%, while a 20% will derive through offsetting with RES development, with an initial target of 600 MW by 2025 and 2 GW by 2030.
During 2020, the Group started the implementation of its first major step to grow its RES portfolio with the acquisition, financing and start of construction of a photovoltaic project in Kozani, which is one of the largest in Europe, with a total capacity of 204MW and an estimated annual contribution of around 320,000 tons CO2 avoided emissions.
With regard to the Group’s quantitative performance in 2020, total CO2 avoided emissions from RES reached approximately 185,000 tons CO2, contributing to the reduction of emission intensity of grid electricity, while the CO2/tn crude throughput index, referred to Scope 1 emissions of refineries, continues to decrease at approximately 22% compared to the 2014 baseline year and has already exceeded the 5% set reduction target until 2020 at the Group’s refineries. Also, in 2020, more than €85 million were invested in projects to reduce the Group's environmental footprint, such as RES, energy efficiency and air emission reduction projects at the refineries, apart from the upgrade – modernization projects in equipment/units.
In addition to CO2 emission reduction initiatives, a study is under way regarding actionsprojects required for the Group's facilities adaptation to climate change impacts.
In addition, the declining trend continued in the Group's three refineries with regard to the most important air emission indicators for the industry in 2020 (sulfur oxides-SOx, nitrogen oxides -NOx and PM particles emissions kg per ton throughput) reflecting the results of implemented environmental management systems and programs to improve environmental performance. Specifically, as illustrated in the diagram below, SOx, NOx and PM emissions have decreased by 36%, 32% and 27% respectively for the past five years, while compared to 2013, reductions reach up to 50%.
For 2020, HELLENIC PETROLEUM’s direct financial impacts were mainly related to the cost of covering the emission allowance deficit, since all three of the Group's refineries in Greece participate in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS). For the period 2013-2020 (3rd phase of Emission Trading System), the compliance cost has increased significantly, despite energy saving projects, due to decreasing the free allowance allocation from year to year, but also due to the significant increase in the price of allowances over the last three years (approximately 300%). The estimated CO2 emissions for the three refineries in 2020 amounted to 3.28 million tons.
In preparation of their participation in the 4th phase of the EU Emission Trading System, in 2020 the refineries submitted all the required data to the competent national authority (Ministry of Energy and Environment) in order to obtain Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHS) permits. These were issued at the end of 2020 for all three refineries.
Following recent European level developments, regarding the announcement of a 55% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030 (in the context of a new, more ambitious green agreement - Green Deal), as well as the already implemented EU-ETS restructuring measures for 2021-2030 and the upcoming new EU ETS revision (in 2021), a significant increase in the price of allowances (€/tn) is expected that will affect future compliance costs, both directly and indirectly through power consumption, which also bears a corresponding costs. In addition, a new mechanism is under discussion to implement a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) at EU borders, which may affect free allocation if applied to the refining industry. Consequently, future compliance costs to the EU ETS may further increase.
Within the framework of reducing its wider environmental footprint, the Group aims to reduce both air emissions and generated waste through specific actions, such as maximizing the use of fuel gases, using fuels with higher environmental standards and applying advanced technologies in the production process. For 2020, measures to improve the environmental footprint in context with the compliance with the new emission levels linked to the Best Available Techniques (BAT) were incorporated into the new environmental permits of both the Aspropyrgos and Elefsina refineries, as well as the Thessaloniki refinery (expected to be issued in 2021).
Note that in 2020, the environmental permit for the Elefsina refinery was issued in accordance with the EU Decision for Best Available Techniques (BAT), while that for the Aspropyrgos’ refinery was revised in relation to the supply of bioethanol for the production of bioethers. In addition, as part of the planned turnaround at Aspropyrgos refinery, environmental upgrade projects were also successfully completed, including the preparation for the installation and operation of a new Electrostatic precipitator device (ESP), which is expected to lead to a 50% reduction in the refinery's total particulate emissions (PMs).
Concerning wastewater and solid waste management, in line with circular economy principles and the UN Goal for Sustainable Production and Consumption (SDG 12), the primary objective is to reduce their production at source, maximize recycling and reuse as many waste streams in the production process as possible and then manage them in the best possible way with regard to the environment and human health. The target is to significantly reduce waste for final landfill disposal and stabilize it at a maximum of 15% by 2030.
Since 2016, the Group has adopted the Greek Sustainability Code and is actively involved in the dialogue on sustainable development, contributing through actions and investments in accordance with the 17 goals set by the UN to be achieved by 2030. In 2020, the Group retained its position for yet another year in The Most Sustainable Companies in Greece 2020 leadership team, making it one of the 25 companies in Greece that act as Ambassadors of the new sustainable development model.
Furthermore, for the third year, it was evaluated for its overall management of climate change issues by the CDP, an international organization (formerly named the Carbon Disclosure Project, which includes a large part of the ‘Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures’ -TCFD proposals) and was rated B- ("Management level - Taking coordinated action on climate issues"), in relation to the average B score for Oil & Gas Processing and the average C score for all companies in Europe and globally.