The last 18 months have been significantly challenging for all of us, both individually and collectively. The energy sector was redefined internationally. For the first time in modern history, the oil sector faced structural changes, with global demand falling by 30%. The severe turbulence in the refining industry brought about a series of chain reactions expressed through, among other things, falling crude prices, excess volumes at historically low refining margins and the curtailment of operations or even closure of many refineries in our region.
In this difficult situation, we responded promptly, comprehensively and effectively, and were able to manage the multiple challenges with flexibility, adaptability and organizational planning.
Our people’s health became our top priority and, with a view to ensuring that not a single day of production would be lost, we safeguarded the uninterrupted operation of our refineries, achieving smooth market supply. We managed to demonstrate the Group’s reliability and operational readiness, and maintained our competitiveness in an unpredictable refining environment, at a time when the global sector was receiving a heavy blow.
We activated all mechanisms and procedures to ensure the health, both physical and mental, of our employees and external associates. In 2020, more than 43,000 PCR and rapid tests were carried out while in total, from the beginning of the pandemic until April 2021, exceeded 100,000. We distributed more than 7 million personal protective equipment (PPE) items to our staff, while all Group facilities, in Greece and abroad, were certified according to the “CoVidShield” Private Certification Scheme at the highest level (“Excellent”).
With continuous initiatives and actions, we supported – more than any other private company in Greece – the Greek State, the wider Society and the National Health System with 8 million euros, in the battle against COVID-19 and its spread, by offering, among other things, the necessary medical equipment at critical times and under particularly difficult conditions.
We implemented significant investments of 295 million euros to accelerate operational planning, of which 20% was allocated to sustainable development and environmental improvement projects. In this context, the Aspropyrgos refinery completed successfully, safely and soundly the largest extensive maintenance and upgrade project in its history. The contribution of everyone in this project – the Group’s management, executives and employees – was once again an excellent reflection of the dedication, professionalism and solidarity that characterizes our
The “next day” for the Group has arrived and we are now ready – even in the new conditions brought about by the health crisis – to seize every opportunity and bring our vision closer to its implementation.
The Group is rapidly transforming itself, based on our new strategic business plan for transformation and sustainable growth, called “Vision 2025”. “Vision 2025” aims to strengthen our position in the industry, making our activities compatible with the new international environment, enabling substantial growth in new, cleaner forms of energy and, at the same time, multiplying the value we create for our stakeholders. This strategy is based on 5 key pillars: defining clear environmental objectives, realigning business strategy and capital allocation to these objectives, establishing an appropriate corporate structure, upgrading corporate governance and adopting a new corporate brand.
Through the use of technology, we are implementing a three-year, 42-million-euro digital transformation program across our business. We are investing in the transformation of our refineries, introducing sustainable raw materials, exploring the possibility of producing lowfootprint liquid fuels on a large scale, setting up renewable energy plants within our facilities and designing energy storage applications in conjunction with our production units. In addition, we are promoting the principles of the circular economy, with already around 68% of total waste being either reused, recycled or further utilized through a raw material recovery process.
We plan to highlight the Elefsina refinery as a model refinery for energy transition, with a series of projects that will make it energy self-sufficient and ensure its operational stability. We are focusing on improving energy efficiency, 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels, blue and green hydrogen production, and waste recovery technologies, storage infrastructure and biorefineries.
We are developing an extensive, diversified energy portfolio focusing on renewable energy and a target of an EBITDA of up to 200 million euros. We already have a portfolio of over 1.3 GW of projects in various stages of development, with a medium-term target of 0.6 GW of installed capacity. The country’s largest photovoltaic park in Kozani officially bears our Group’s signature and will be fully operational in early 2022. It is a landmark 204 MW project, which reflects in the clearest way our company’s commitment to the next day of the energy sector.
In parallel, we are looking at opportunities in geothermal energy and the regulatory framework for offshore wind, and are exploring expansion into the renewables sector at neighbouring markets. At the same time, we are making a dynamic entry into the growing market of electrification services, where we are developing an extensive network of EV charging stations across the country, as well as related services.
Our investment plan over the next years will amount to approximately 4 billion euros, of which more than 50% will be directed towards the development of new activities (RES, Hydrogen, Biofuels), while the remainder is intended for the modernization of our existing business and the production of cleaner liquid fuels.
We remain focused on our vision and the strategic goal we have set, accelerating the processes to improve our environmental footprint by 50% by 2030, and a zero net emissions balance by 2050.
Investments in environmental footprint reduction projects at the Group’s facilities amounted to over 85 million euros. There was a reduction of up to 36% in key gas emission indicators over the five-year period (tn/throughput indicators) and, since 2014, we have achieved a 22% reduction in the CO2 /tn crude oil feed emission indicator, compared to an initial target of -5% for 2020. With the investments in renewable energy and self-generated electricity at the Group’s refineries over the last five years alone, we achieved an avoidance of 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
We are making continuous efforts to improve our processes for safe operation. We are adopting more effective standards, setting annual measurable targets to improve performance, strengthening our corporate culture and investing in prevention, infrastructure and staff training. In 2020, we invested 13 million euros in safety improvements at our facilities and achieved our target of “zero” Major Industrial Accidents and Environmental Incidents. It is indicative that the process incident frequency rate decreased again by 14%, compared to 2019. We are continuously updating equipment and infrastructure to support the activities required to respond to emergencies, while the man-hours spent on the training of permanent staff and external partners to acquire a common safety culture increased by 17% year-on-year.
Our approach to setting a business direction based on the ESG criteria for the environment, society and corporate governance has been redefined and constitutes a central pillar of our plan to achieve sustainable development.
In addition to the necessary changes we are promoting concerning corporate governance, based on international best practices, the Group continues to steadily support both the wider society and the neighboring municipalities in which it operates, with important programs and substantial actions. In 2020, apart from the actions taken in response to the pandemic, our Corporate Social Responsibility program exceeded 2.8 million euros, supporting socially vulnerable groups, organizations and social groceries, as well as the Youth, granting scholarships and creating sustainable facilities in public school buildings and institutions.
At the same time, as active members of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), we support – and contribute to – the dissemination of its principles of transparency, integrity, good corporate governance, respect for human rights, protection of the environment, adoption of anti-corruption rules and implementation of best labor practices, and we have linked each of our strategic choices to the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals.
The desired continuous improvement in these areas can only be ensured through the joint effort of all, the Group’s management, employees and partners, and the support of our stakeholders, whom we thank again for their trust and support of our work.
Chief Executive Officer