Cepsa Presents its Environmental Declarations and Underlines its Commitment to Society

17 Jun 2020

    • Twenty-three years ago, Cepsa was the first company in Spain to join the international register of eco-audited centers pursuant to the EMAS Regulation.
    • The multinational energy and chemical company continues to invest in the environment, investing 41.5 million euro in 2019 and 862 million euro since 1997.

Cepsa has publicly presented its environmental declarations for the La Rábida Refinery and the Palos Chemical Plant, its operating centers in the province of Huelva. These documents contain all of the duly audited information relating to the environmental performance of these facilities in 2019.

The La Rábida Refinery was the first Spanish refinery the join the international register of eco-audited centers pursuant to the EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) Regulation, and 2020 marks 23 years since it first joined this register. This year also marks 21 years since the first environmental declaration for the Palos Chemical Plant was published and 10 years since this plant was approved to join the EMAS register.

Over the past year, both centers have adopted all of the measures necessary to comply with the requirements set out in their respective Integrated Environmental Authorizations (IEAs), granted by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, and have kept their emission levels well below the permitted limits. They have also adopted the necessary measures to comply with the new requirements regarding the use of the best available techniques, which entered into force this year.

Cepsa's environmental investment and spending amounted to 41.5 million euro. Since 1997, Cepsa has spent a total of 862 million euro on its facilities in Huelva. This investment went toward projects for improving energy efficiency, reducing atmospheric emissions and treating wastewater, among others.

As regards the achievement of objectives, the result was very positive, with a figure of 96.2% for the Refinery and 98.2% for the Chemical Plant. The measures taken to improve the management and reduction of emissions, discharges and waste were particularly effective.

At the presentation, Jose Antonio Agüera, Director of the La Rábida Refinery, said that, "At Cepsa, we are certain that we must continue making progress in energy efficiency, with a solid investment plan and with an interest in teaching and training people. All of our actions are unequivocally linked to sustainability and caring for the environment." Jesús Ivars, Production Director for Cepsa's chemical plants in Andalusia, added, "Cepsa is fully aware of the need to minimize the impact of its activity on the environment in which it operates. We are therefore proud to be transparent and to publish these environmental results, which show, year on year, an improvement across all areas."

La Rábida Refinery. Main Results

In 2019, the La Rábida Refinery received a positive outcome in the review and modification of its IEA for adapting the facilities at its large combustion plants and large-scale chemical production plants to the best available techniques (BAT) in the refining sector (according to Best Available Techniques reference documents for refining), marking the end of a review process that began in 2016.

The average annual concentrations were below the limits established in the Integrated Environmental Authorization. The contribution of gas emissions to the average pollutant emission values measured at the stations of the Air Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Network of Andalusia, both in Huelva city and in the province, is marginal with respect to the applicable limits.

In terms of total SO2 emissions according to the quantity of crude processed, a value of 0.28 kg SO2/t of treated crude was obtained, one of the lowest values ever recorded. A reduction of 87% has been achieved since 2000.

The discharge quality has seen a significant improvement since 1995. In 2019, annual average concentrations were below the limits set out in the Integrated Environmental Authorization, with values ranging from 2% to 73% of the permitted limit for the main parameters. The level of compliance with the legally established control parameters has been very close to 100%.

In 2019, the total quantity of waste was 13,690 tons. Cepsa prioritizes management that ensures the most efficient use. To this end, 8,159 tons were recovered, representing 60% of the total.

With the aim of improving the energy efficiency index, in 2014 the Refinery obtained certification for its Energy Management System. This certification aims to promote efficiency, reduce the gas emissions that cause climate change, guarantee compliance with legislation and ensure the best possible use of surplus energy. In 2019, the energy efficiency index was 83.3. Since 2010, efficiency has risen 15.3 units.

In recent years, the sulfur specifications for automotive diesel and petrol have lowered their content to 0.001% (10 ppm). In order to comply with this requirement, Cepsa has invested in making improvements and enhancements to its desulfurization processes. These investments facilitate a reduction in SO2 emissions of these products in cities through the exhaust pipes of vehicles in general, thereby improving air quality.

Meanwhile, European directives and Spanish legislation have set objectives for 2019 to ensure that 7% of the energy present in all our petrol and diesel fuels comes from the use of biofuels.

Palos Chemical Plant. Principal outcomes
Phenol production using renewable sources was carried out at the Palos Chemical Plant for the first time in 2019, using benzene manufactured from ISCC-certified (International Sustainability Carbon Certification) forestry biomass.

By using only gaseous fuels, principally natural gas, for the production processes of the Palermo petrochemical center, particle and SO2 emissions are minimal, falling below the detection limits. With regard to NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions, the annual emissions average of the main source is maintained below the limits established by the legislation.

In 2019, Cepsa achieved a 30% reduction in its discharge quality index, expressed as a global indicator of the main parameters limited by the Integrated Environmental Authorization. The cumulative reduction since 1998 is 95%.
In this period, 2,694 tons of waste were managed, of which 846 tons (31.4%) will be sent for recovery.

In 2015, the Cepsa chemical plant's Energy Management System earned UNE EN-ISO 50001 certification. This certification aims to promote efficiency in production processes, promote the use of surplus energies, reduce gas emissions that contribute to climate change and to ensure compliance with legislation. In 2019, the energy efficiency index was 2.4% higher than 2018. This was the result of a lack of stability in operations due to market conditions. Since 2010 it has improved by 11.4% thanks to investment and optimization of operations.

Remarkably, 2019 marked the first year ever in which production activity at the Palos plant ran on 100% renewable electrical power. This power was supplied by Cepsa's Gas and Electricity area and translated into a significant reduction in the facility's carbon footprint, preventing 74,460 t of CO2 emissions.

As regards the balance of CO2 emissions, the third rights trading period (2013-2020) began in 2013. The 2019 balance for the two Huelva centers showed a deficit of 688,037 CO2 rights, due to the fact that their electricity cogeneration facilities, as in the whole of Europe, have stopped receiving free rights.

The Company and Fundación Cepsa are committed to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with particular focus on the following: affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; responsible consumption and production; climate action; and peace, justice and strong institutions.

Fundación Cepsa in the environment
In 2019, the educational programs with a clear environmental focus and the research, maintenance and public utility initiatives continued at the Laguna Primera de Palos Lake and the Marismas del Odiel Nature Reserve, backed by the collaboration agreements with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Regional Government of Andalusia.

In addition, through collaboration agreements with other bodies and public administrations, activities were carried out to promote research into sustainability, environmental education, care and enhancement of the environment, and the development of environmentally friendly policies.

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The heads of Environmental Protection of Cepsa's centres in Huelva during the presentation of the Environmental Declarations.
  • The heads of Environmental Protection of Cepsa's centres in Huelva during the presentation of the Environmental Declarations.

Cepsa's refinery and chemical plant managers in Huelva with authorities attending the event.
  • Cepsa's refinery and chemical plant managers in Huelva with authorities attending the event.