Understanding the environment in which we operate and minimising our environmental footprint is critical to maintaining our legal and social licence to operate. MOL Group is continuously working on avoiding, minimizing and mitigating environmental impacts in all of its areas of operation. We aim to improve our waste management and emission performance, manage our impact on water and biodiversity and address any related impact on local communities.
Pollutants can travel hundreds of miles from their sources having their impact far from their origins. Air protection has therefore been at the centre of EU environmental policy priorities for several years now. Programs and strategies such as the CAFE program (Clean Air for Europe), the Air Quality Directive or the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) set obligations on Member states and private companies as well.
The main source of emissions in MOL Group’s operations are the combustion of fossil fuels and refining technologies. Refining division accounts for up to 85% of total basic pollutants emitted to the air in the company’s operations. The most significant pollutants of refineries are SO2, NOx and VOCs. We focus on reduction of emissions through the installation of low NOx burners and the implementation of programs to detect and eliminate VOC leakages.
The SO2 emissions and NOx emissions are on the rise in the past years. The 56% increase in SOx and 23% increase in NOx during the 2013-2017 period is attributable to several factors such as increased production in E&P and some of the refineries, lower quality of fuel gas used and crude with higher sulphur content and inorganic expansion through the acquisition of the CM European Power Slovakia (CMEPS).
In order to better control the VOC emissions, a leak detection and repair programme (LDAR) has been ongoing in MOL Group since 2010, coupled with a programme for improving the monitoring and reporting of such emissions. Every year, the scope of the LDAR programme has been extended to cover more units. However, the program has resulted in significant decreases of VOC over the past few years at the individual site level and in 2017 efforts continued with further improvements.
At the Petrochemicals division emissions are generated mainly in the furnaces of the steam cracker units. The most significant pollutants here are NOx and VOCs. NOx emission has been decreased with the installation of low-NOx burners in past years, while in order to reduce VOC emissions a project was implemented where we installed fixed roofs on floating roof tanks. Each process we operate at Petrochemicals division complies with best available techniques (BAT) requirements.
At the Upstream division we focus on reducing the amount of flared and vented hydrocarbons and internal gas consumption. Even though Upstream does not have as significant emissions as Downstream (Refining or Petrochemicals), our goal is to continuously decrease emissions here as well. Since 2015, MOL Group is a signatory party to the Zero Routine Flaring Initiative of World Bank.
In the Logistics and Retail divisions the most significant pollutant is VOC which is derived from the handling and storage of final petroleum products. Such emissions are managed by installing first and second stage vapour recovery units.
Performant waste management practices help reduce health and environmental problems, reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and avoid negative impacts at local level such as landscape deterioration due to landfilling, local water and air pollution, as well as littering. MOL Group is committed towards reducing our impact on the environment and hence, waste management practices are in focus.
The European Union's approach to waste management is based on the "waste hierarchy" which sets the following priority order when shaping waste policy and managing waste at the operational level: prevention, (preparing for) reuse, recycling, recovery and, as the least preferred option, disposal (which includes landfilling and incineration without energy recovery). MOL Group’s waste management strategy is following these principles.
This waste management hierarchy means that our priority is to prevent the generation of waste and reduce its amount as far as possible. Since there are technologies and processes which make waste generation unavoidable, we make constant efforts to reuse or recycle/recover these kinds of waste. If disposal is the only solution, it is managed responsibly, respecting all relevant legal requirements.
We maintain a Total Waste Management system, regulating all waste related processes. It focuses on efficiency-improvements, reducing the volume of disposed waste and increasing valued, reused, recycled or recovered waste. The basic pillars of the system are legal compliance and the follow up / documentation of the processes. To supply our requirements and to reduce waste management costs we have long-term waste management contracts.
Information on waste quantities can be found in our Annual Report.
The oil and gas industry, consumes large amounts of water for the production facilities but it also produces large amounts of water due to the extraction of oil and gas. MOL Group is constantly focused on finding ways to improve the handling methods of these large quantities of water. There are two separate type of water needs within MOL Group: the upstream and downstream. Each sector has specific and significant requirements in terms of process water, the treatment of waste water and recycling.
In Upstream business, process water is used as injection water for wells, in order to help recover crude oil and gas. The water produced must then be treated in order to be recycled and re-injected, or simply in order to comply with increasingly strict discharge standards. At MOL Group we are constantly monitoring the water efficiency of our Downstream units. Process water is mostly used to supply boilers and cooling circuits, and for some oil refining processes.
Issues related to water management are becoming increasingly critical in the lives of societies and companies, and require a permanent change in operations. Water management principles are similar to those followed in waste management; critical is reducing fresh water intake, the reuse and recycling of water and responsible water emissions (reductions and impact assessments).
Biodiversity – the variety of species within an ecosystem – is a resource that is currently under threat of depletion. As MOL Group operates facilities not only in highly industrialized areas but also in or close to national parks, areas of high biodiversity value and wetlands and rivers, we pay special attention to conserving species and protecting biodiversity.
More information on biodiversity can be found in the Case Studies.
MOL Group’s philosophy about behaving responsibly towards stakeholders covers not just employees but communities and the environment as well. Based on this principle of responsibility, the prevention of hazardous spills and leakages is a key priority.