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EIB to finance R&D project to improve energy- and environmental footprint of CEPSA's chemicals operations

In Spain, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is to support integrated oil, gas, energy and petrochemical major CEPSA's commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its activities by financing a globally pioneering R&D project to increase the sustainability of its petrochemicals operations. To this end, the EU bank has granted a EUR 60 million Investment Plan for Europe loan to the company "on favourable terms."

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 60 million Investment Plan for Europe loan to CESPA to finance a “globally pioneering” R&D project to increase the sustainability of its petrochemical operations. The agreement was signed in Madrid by CEPSA CEO Philippe Boisseau (left) and EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro (photo courtesy EIB).

The EIB-financed investment will be used to install the Detal system, a state-of-the-art technology jointly created by CEPSA and specialised technology company Honeywell UOP to produce linear alkylbenzene (LAB), the most commonly used raw material for the production of biodegradable detergents internationally.

The project, estimated to cost EUR 123 million in total, will upgrade an existing LAB production plant from the conventional liquid acid-based catalyst system to the proprietary solid bed catalyst technology resulting in a significant improvement in terms of the environmental footprint of LAB production.

This technology improves the efficiency of the manufacturing process and cuts carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and water and electricity use. It also optimises the production process as it both reduces waste and enables much of it to be reused while providing major safety improvements.

At the signing ceremony in Madrid, EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro highlighted the fact that this project “will help a Spanish multinational to lead the petrochemical industry towards a more environmentally friendly model. With this agreement, the EIB is contributing to the achievement of the EU’s climate and environmental objectives by supporting investments enabling CEPSA to develop new innovative and resource-efficient production processes. We are pleased that these cutting-edge technologies are being installed at a factory in Andalusia, helping to create jobs and foster social and territorial cohesion.”

Monitor improvements and environmental benefits

The agreement was made possible by the Investment Plan for Europe, aka “Juncker Plan”, which enables the EIB to support investments fostering innovation, economic growth, and employment. During the implementation phase, CEPSA estimates that this project will create around 250 (mostly local) jobs, peaking at 400 jobs, and will help to safeguard CEPSA’s 3 600 direct and 2 600 indirect positions in Andalusia.

A central message of the European Green Deal Investment Plan I presented in January is that all actors must play their part to make the climate transition a success. This agreement signed with CEPSA is a tangible example of how Europe can support companies’ efforts to become greener and more energy-efficient – while leading the way in innovation, said Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the Economy.

The EIB will monitor the implementation of this project, which CEPSA plans to complete in mid-2020, as part of its goal to move towards a more efficient and sustainable productive model. This type of project falls under Annex II of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, the screening and respective EIA decisions and reports will be assessed during the appraisal.

The environmental dimension of the project will be scrutinised during the appraisal. This will include a conformity check with applicable EU directives the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), the Ambient Air Quality Directive and the Seveso Directive (SEVESOIII) – and the environmental and occupational health and safety (OHS) plans.

We are grateful for all of the EIB’s support and for its interest in moving towards safer and more sustainable industrial processes. This project will not only enable us to reduce the impact of our operations, a priority for CEPSA, but also to improve the quality of our output and increase the versatility of the San Roque plant, adapting to the specific requirements of each customer and strengthening international competitiveness. Without a doubt, it is our experience and capacity for innovation in this sector that has enabled us to tackle such a unique project, said Philippe Boisseau, CEO, CEPSA.

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