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Energy and climate change Carbon Strategy: Striving for a low-emissions future

Our strategy for fighting climate change

Taking a step towards a low-emissions future. Energy is essential to any everyday activity. That is why the key to achieving an energy model that is sustainable over time is to use it efficiently and responsibly.

Our goal

One of the pillars of our strategy is to boost the initiatives that reduce energy intensity during the whole life cycle of our products, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. 

Our current 2014-2020 emissions reduction plan aims to cut CO2 equivalent emissions by 1.9 million tons. During 2014 and 2015, we took measures resulting in a reduction of 0.9 million tons of CO2 equivalent, achieving approximately 45% of our target. 

In 2015 alone, we conducted over 140 investment and operational improvement actions throughout the company, which have helped us cut 361 kilotons of CO2eq, which corresponds to savings of over 5 million gigajoules. 

This mainly involved projects concerning the energy integration of units, steam consumption optimization, insulation improvements, furnace modifications, installing variable speed engines, and measures for cutting flaring and venting. 

We have been working for years on objectives and plans to reduce the energy and carbon intensity of our operations. The current plan follows on from the plan drawn up for the 2006-2013 period, which committed to cutting CO2 by 2.5 million tons. We far exceeded the objective, and by the end of the period had managed to cut CO2 emissions by 3.1 million tons.

Moving towards our strategic goal of reducing emissions:

We plan to invest approximately €500 million between 2011-2020 through our plans for GHG emissions reduction and energy efficiency at our refineries and chemical plants.

Energy efficiency

We believe energy efficiency to be one of the most effective ways of mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

We strive to operate efficiently. 

For many years, we have been implementing energy reduction measures at our facilities through investment and operational improvement actions. By focusing on energy efficiency, not only have we cut our GHG emissions, but we have also reduced our operating costs (around 60% of a refinery’s variable costs are energy costs). 

At Repsol, we are committed to constantly improving the way we use energy resources at our facilities and operations throughout the full life cycle, optimizing technology and how processes are designed, in addition to the way facilities are operated, encouraging the use of energy efficient products and services.

We are certain that technological development is essential to be able to continue reducing our facilities’ energy consumption. We make sure to invest in innovation and technology, with a particular focus on energy efficiency and sustainability. 

To formalize the company’s vision and energy policy, and to be able to track goals and objectives in the short, medium, and long term with a view to continuous improvement, we are gradually implementing Energy Management Systems in all of our activities, in line with the ISO 50001 international standard. 

Eight of our facilities (refineries and chemical plants) are currently certified in accordance with this standard. We also have eight plants for manufacturing and storing lubricants, asphalts, and specialized products that are certified as multiple sites. 

Our energy efficiency measures include actions to cut flare gas emissions. Our company has been taking measures for years to minimize these emissions by recovering the gas and using it as fuel to generate process heat or produce electricity. 

In June 2016 we joined the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative to collaborate with other companies from the sector, as well as governments and institutions on initiatives to reduce flaring. 

Contributing to efficient transportation 

We encourage the development and marketing of improved fuels for transport, helping our customers to achieve more efficient, less GHG emissions-intensive mobility. 

For us at Repsol, it is essential to work closely with vehicle manufacturers to develop more efficient engines and to research more advanced engine-fuel-lubricant combinations to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. 

In fact, the prospecting studies on energy for transportation carried out at our Technology Center help to define R&D projects and subsequently analyze how competitive new propulsion systems are in conjunction with different energy sources (fossil fuels and renewable energies) and to identify more efficient and economically sustainable solutions. One example of this type of study is the Spain 2017 project.

The role of gas. Reduction of methane emissions

We consider natural gas to be the most efficient solution for promoting a structured transition to a low-emissions future, particularly in the area of electricity generation. 

CO2 emissions per energy unit when using natural gas are approximately half of those from using coal, aside from the difference in how the technologies associated with these fuels perform, as occurs with electricity generation. In this regard, we have an edge over our competitors: our exploration and production portfolio has increasingly higher levels of gas compared to oil; approximately 65% of production wells and 75% of reserves are gas. 

Natural gas can play an immediate key role in reducing fossil fuel emissions. However, it can only do so if we manage to reduce methane emissions, given that in 100 years, their greenhouse effect will be 25 times higher than that of CO2. 

The International Energy Agency described the reduction of methane emissions in our sector’s activities as one of the five main opportunities in the world for mitigating greenhouse gases for achieving the two degree target. 

By implementing company Environmental Performance Practices, at Repsol, we have established LDAR(Leak Detection and Repair)to detect methane leaks and repair them. These guidelines constitute a set of common standards, regardless of the geographical region we operate in and the specific laws of each country. 

We normally apply the hybrid LDAR methodology which initially includes the use of OGI cameras(Optical Gas Imaging)to detect leaks, followed by the use of flame ionization detectors (FID) to quantify the mass emission rate of CH4 and COVs.

In June 2016 we joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Oil & Gas Methane Partnership initiative (CCAC-OGMP), to collaborate and boost the implementation of initiatives to reduce methane emissions.

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)

This technology has an important part to play in the long-term in achieving reduction targets by 2050. 

While several cutting-edge projects have already been launched, a series of obstacles must be overcome before the CCUS can be implemented full-scale. These include high capital and operating costs, a lack of stable policies, and uncertainty concerning geological storage capacity. 

The capture, geological storage, and use of CO2 is part of the policy on CO2 emissions reduction in our value chain and the actions will focus on projects that are economically and socially feasible and in line with our reputation. 

In the long term, the experience gained by the oil and gas industry in the development, implementation, and management of worldwide technologies will contribute to implementing not only CCUS, but also other technologies that offer low carbon emissions.

Carbon pricing

We support carbon price fixing as a framework for policies that will help to provide a clear road map for future investments and bring us closer to the 2ºC goal. 

Setting a carbon price is a fundamental step in the journey to reducing emissions so that we can achieve the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. This is because it encourages the search for solutions that help to efficiently cut emissions.

Policies on carbon price fixing often take the form of an Emissions Trading System (ETS), although some legislations tax carbon. 

The private sector is also playing an increasingly bigger role in carbon price fixing. Including an internal carbon price into company strategies is becoming increasingly common, even in places where carbon prices have not been legislated. 

Broadly speaking, we support price fixing for GHG emissions, whenever the laws governing said pricing are the same for everyone. 

With regard to our assets that are under ETS legislation, we factor in the price of carbon in all new projects and investments, as well as in the changes we make to existing operations. This serves as an incentive to increase energy efficiency and cut CO2 emissions. In countries that do not have a regulated carbon market, sensitivity analyses are carried out on our projects and our portfolio, under different carbon pricing scenarios.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy will play an increasingly bigger role in the move towards a world with lower emissions. At Repsol, we continuously monitor trends and the latest technologies that are being developed in the field of renewable energy. We are involved in offshore wind farm projects, we invest in electric transport, and we help reduce emissions in downstream by researching and producing biofuels. 

Moreover, as part of our commitment to provide efficient and sustainable energy, we continue to analyze new projects in this field.

Electric transportation:

We have been backing electric transport since 2010 through the company IBIL, shared by Repsol (50%) and the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), which offers a comprehensive charging service based on 100% renewable energy, smart stations and facilities, and a control center as part of the infrastructure. 

We currently have over 700 charging points in operation, both publicly and privately. A €6 million investment has been made since the launch of the project. 

We also continue to bring electric transport to the Repsol paddock at the MotoGP circuits thanks to the collaboration of Scutum (electric motorcycle supplier) and IBIL (in charge of managing the charging station). Repsol has had a share in Scutum since 2014 through the INNVIERTE3 program, which focuses on the design, production, and sale of electric platforms and battery extractor systems for electric motorcycles. 

We are also still running the corporate car-sharing program with electric vehicles. Thanks to the initiative, the 289 users that are signed up to the service have traveled over 30,000 kilometers emissions-free.

Furthermore, we are researching and creating technologies so that the batteries used in electric cars can be charged faster and last longer.

More information on fast-charging and long-lasting batteries

(3) The INNVIERTE program is part of the Spanish Strategy of Science, Technology and Innovation 2013-2020. This strategy involves the objectives, reforms, and measures that must be taken in all aspects of R&D in order to boost its growth and impact. The program consists of an agreement with the CDTI (Spain’s Center for the Development of Industrial Technology) to co-invest in Spanish technological SMEs in the field of alternative energy and energy efficiency. The joint investment pledged is €15 million, with Repsol contributing €8.6 million, and also managing the subsequent company portfolio.


We also help reduce CO2 emissions by using biofuels, adding bioethanol to gasoline, and biodiesel and vegetable oil (VO) to diesel.

With regard to biofuel production, we focus on two lines of action: 

  • Promoting advanced biofuel projects (using non-food raw materials and biomass) with strong technological development and high sustainability. Although we still have not started producing this type of biofuel, we have projects in the development phase at the Repsol Technology Center that use biotechnology processes (advanced fermentation) and thermochemical ones (using pyrolysis and processing at refinery units).
  • Production of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) or hydrobiodiesel at our refineries, which is a vegetable oil obtained from oilseeds treated with hydrogen and forms part of the diesel fuel formulation. 

We have increased the percentage of biofuels added to our gasolines and diesels. In recent years it has stood at 5.8% in Spain, and in 2020 we will exceed 10%. 

At the Repsol Technology Center, we are working on developing an advanced biofuel by biologically producing it using renewable raw materials, such as lignocellulosic biomass.

We are looking to obtain molecules with high performance in ignition engines which are compatible with currently used fossil fuels. The work is structured in two large blocks:
  • Identify and select microorganisms with good properties for lignocellulose degradation.  
  • Design and build a synthetic metabolic pathway for producing the objective molecule in a model microorganism.

Results with one of the enzymes lead to the biological synthesis of a whole family of compounds which, until now, could not be produced biologically. Biological processes tend to occur in milder reaction conditions, result in less by-products or waste, and therefore normally have less of an impact on the environment. Another advantage is that they can occur using renewable raw materials.