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Managing our emissions
We are committed to the highest standards of environment performance.
Regular reporting of all material environment impacts is undertaken and provided quarterly and annually to the Environment Agency. This delivers compliance with the permits which have been granted to the Group under the requirements of the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
The purpose of this document is to explain what emissions there are from our production processes, the steps we have put in place to manage these emissions and to protect the environment and our local communities and how we are regulated to ensure we comply with the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
We have a robust management system in place. The Essar Oil UK HSE-MS (Health, Safety & Environment – Management System) is premised on the basis that effective management of health, safety, environment and major accident hazards require a systematic approach with appropriate governance structures in place. It requires that every employee has clearly defined and unambiguous accountabilities that must be met to achieve their objectives.
The Management System is hierarchical, and its content aligns the ten elements set out in ISO 14001 (2015) and the ISO 45001. The HSE-MS has been accredited to ISO 14001 and ISO9001 since 1999.
We are proud to be located as part of an industrial cluster of businesses based on the south side of the Mersey Estuary near Liverpool.
Why do we have stacks?
Most of the emissions from our processes come from our ‘stacks’ – stacks are the tall chimneys you can see around our site. Our refinery processes crude oil to produce liquid petroleum gas (LPG), petrol, kerosene (jet fuel), diesel and marine shipping fuel. Some of those processes require the crude oil or fuel components to be heated up. There are several furnaces on site for this heating and these have stacks for the hot flue gases.
What do we burn?
The furnaces on site burn a combination of natural gas (as used in domestic households), LPG, hydrogen, and a liquid fuel which is similar to marine shipping fuel. Our Environmental Permit lists the fuels which we are permitted to burn and any change to our fuels would need to be agreed with the Environment Agency.
How do we measure our emissions?
The Environment Agency has identified priority pollutants for air quality
The site Environment Permit (issued by the Environment Agency) contains limits for the site stacks. The main site stacks are continually monitored to check that emissions are within the in the Environmental Permit. All stack emissions are reported to the Environment Agency on a regular basis.
On the rare occasions that site stack emissions exceed the limits in the Environment Permit, this must be reported to the Environment Agency within 24 hours.
There are standards in place for the measurement equipment which must be used on the stacks. These standards are defined by the Environment Agency. As a condition of the Environment Permit we must provide evidence to the Environment Agency that the measurement equipment meets these standards.
How are off-site emissions monitored?
Chester West and Cheshire Council monitor air quality at over 80 locations in the borough, of these there are six real time stations which monitor pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates (these are the EA priority pollutants for air quality).
The six real time stations include Thornton le Moors and Elton, which are the closest neighbouring villages to the refinery.
Air Quality Management Zones
There are National Air Quality Objectives which have been put in place to protect people’s health and the environment https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/aqma/
If a local authority finds any places where the objectives are not likely to be achieved, it must declare an Air Quality Management Area there. There are 5 Air Quality Management Areas in Chester West and Chester, one of which is in Thornton le Moors for Sulphur dioxide.
The Air Quality Management Area in Thornton le Moors was declared by Chester West and Cheshire Council in 2016. The reason for the declaration of the Air Quality Management Area was due to exceedances of the 15 minute public health limit for Sulphur Dioxide (greater than 35 exceedances annually of the 266ug/m3 in a 15 minute period).
We have addressed the source of the sulphur dioxide emissions from Stanlow. Following this work the number of annual exceedances of the 15 minute limit has reduced significantly and has been within the Public Health Air Quality Objective every year since 2019.
Table: Exceedances of the Public Health Air Quality Objective for SO2
(15 minute mean SO2 objective of 266ug/m3 for 15 minutes)
Public Health Objective
(Includes original monitoring location and current monitoring site)
No more than 35 exceedances in a year
Our progress on the Air Quality Management Areas is reviewed regularly by Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency have the power to use Enforcement Action against the company if progress on improving the Air Quality Management Area is not deemed sufficient.
What are we doing for the future?
We are investing to improve our emissions for the future:
Crude Distiller Furnace: A new £40 million furnace has recently been delivered to site to replace the existing crude distiller furnace. This furnace is more energy efficient and will reduce site emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates. The furnace is ‘hydrogen ready’ and will be able to burn 100% hydrogen following the start-up of the Vertex hydrogen plant. This will eliminate sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions from the furnace.
Vertex Hydrogen Plant: Essar is a major stakeholder in Vertex which is working to design and build hydrogen production plants at the Stanlow site. These hydrogen plants will provide new fuel for Stanlow refinery and other industrial plants in the North West area – significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the North West region.
Carbon capture: The company is developing a major carbon capture scheme and this has the potential to play a significant role on reducing emissions from the refinery. Utilising the HyNet infrastructure, carbon dioxide emission from our fluid catalytic cracker would be captured and safety stored.