During crude oil and product transportation via pipelines, the accidental release of hydrocarbons into the groundwater or soil imposes the biggest threat to local ecosystems. Based on knowledge from international best practice, there are 5 recognised different causes of spills:
- Accidents or thefts by third parties
- Operational failures
- Mechanical failures
- Natural hazards
The risk of spills which are caused due to the above-mentioned reasons can be most effectively mitigated by using different methods. In general, to mitigate the risk of any kind of spills or leakages we use a wide range of passive and active protection systems with our newly constructed pipelines. These include, for example, using corrosion protection systems, pressure and inflow-outflow analysis, as well as intelligent pigging (pipeline inspection gauges).
The majority of minor spills which are due to corrosion take place at our Exploration and Production Business. To tackle this issue we use a risk-based approach to identifying and replacing the most critical pipelines or pipeline sections every year.
Third party thefts from our product pipelines were a major issue a couple of years earlier. However, since we started using a leakage detection system on our product pipelines which operates with a high level of accuracy, the number of third party thefts has reduced.
Detection of spills is crucial in order to minimize negative effects on environment. Beyond the above-mentioned systems which are in place for prevention, we regularly conduct aerial and ground observations to detect spills as quickly as possible.
If a spill is detected, the containment of the spilled material and the polluted area immediately begins, based on pre-defined processes. Then the remediation process (which includes the excavation, transportation and treatment of the polluted soil, as well as attempts to restore the original status of the environment) commences. The monitoring process then follows remediation. Monitoring of the polluted area and the effects of the spillage may last for decades.
Operating at sea
Although we do not operate any off-shore operations we do take measures to protect marine ecosystems near our operations that are on the coast.
At the Rijeka refinery the longstanding operations which have taken place on certain types of terrain (primarily porous limestone) have led to the penetration and accumulation of hydrocarbons underground. These hydrocarbons started to leak into the Adriatic Sea several years ago. Our responsibility and the relevant legislation do not permit such discharges to occur, so Rijeka Refinery is protecting the marine world by using passive measures such as setting up and maintaining protective curtains and floating offshore installations, by dams and the use of absorbent cloths and the use of dispersants, specialized boat-cleaners, skimmers, pumps and other equipment. Additionally, the remediation of underground contamination at the Refinery Rijeka has been ongoing since 1993.
MOL Group did not operate any off-shore installations in 2017 (MOL Group only participated in offshore exploration or production activities through joint ventures as a non-operating member). However, MOL Group still ensures that measures are in place to protect marine ecosystems in the vicinity of operations that are located near the coast (e.g. in the UK and Norwegian North Sea).