Recover ,Recycle and Reuse of water and raw materials in refineries

The goal was the effective management of critical resources such as water and raw materials and the environmental footprint reduction of Hellenic Petroleum Group. These actions contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6 for the sustainable water management and Goal 12 for sustainable production and consumption.

Water is a limited resource, thus, reducing its consumption, recycling and re-use as well as promoting the rational use of it, have always been the main objectives of the Group, as part of its strategic choice for sustainable development.

Additionally, this best practice lead to the recovery of significant hydrocarbons quantity in refineries not only in the waste water treatment plant but also in several other processes. The recovered quantity of hydrocarbons returns as feed to the atmospheric distillation unit, reducing the consumption of non-renewable mineral resources such as crude oil, an approach to circular economy.

The target audience for this best practice is primarily the industry and the engineers and/or the technicians who are responsible for the implementation of resources efficiency projects. However, since water is a limited resource, this best practice which is an approach to circular economy has a direct impact to all stakeholders.


Integrated water management in refineries includes, among other actions, the adoption of best practices that aim primarily to reduce consumption. Thus, in the framework of Best Available Techniques implementation, i.e. technically feasible and economically viable practices, both in the design phase of new units and in the operation of existing ones, separation of effluent streams (e.g. cooling water, rainwater), leak detection and repair and seawater desalination are implemented in order to reduce fresh water consumption.

Furthermore, in cases that is technically feasible, water is recycled and/or re-used. As there is no need for fresh water for several chemical processes, water from various sources within the refinery can be reused. Indicatively some good examples are the water reuse in the desalter unit, in boilers, steam generators and other processes (e.g. scrubbing). Additionally, cooling towers are installed in each refinery of the Group, which allow continuous re-use of sea water; the sea water is being returned to the sea after every cooling cycle (once through cooling water).

In addition, 3-stages wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are installed in each refinery of the Group, thus, the physicochemical characteristics of the effluents are up to 50% lower than the legislative limits. That allows part of treated water from the WWTP (around 5%) to be reused in various auxiliary uses (e.g. hydraulic testing, cleaning) and also as firefighting water.

Finally, significant amounts of hydrocarbons are being recovered during wastewater treatment (mainly in the oil separators), which are added to those recovered from the sludge centrifugal unit (tricanter). These recovered quantities of hydrocarbons return as feed to the atmospheric distillation unit, which results in the reduction of the consumption of non-renewable mineral resources such as crude oil.

No cooperation with other associations.

All Hellenic Petroleum employees, engineers, technicians, operators who work in the relevant production units of the refineries.

At the Refineries of Hellenic Petroleum Group.

The benefits of recycling and reuse, as part of an integrated waste and critical resources (such as water) management, are well known and documented. These processes, apart from the economic and environmental benefits, require specialized human resources, creating consequently new job vacancies. Thus, the benefit that companies receive from the use of several resources is being returned in a way to the public and the society in general.

Indicatively from 2008 up to date, the benefits regarding the recycle and reuse of water and other raw materials are:

  1. Over 745,000 tons of raw materials (hydrocarbons) have been recovered from various waste streams,
  2. Over 10 million m3 of water have been reused or recycled and
  3. All chemical characteristics of water effluents are up to 50% lower than the corresponding legislative limits, e.g. hydrocarbon content in water.