Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) is proceeding with the modernization and upgrade of its refinery installations at Elefsina, west of Athens, investing 850 million euros in four new production units to stretch across 160,000 square meters, it announced yesterday. The group intends to complete this investment by 2010, although the real time frame will probably depend on the reactions of local communities which have already started to raise protest. HELPE President Timos Christodoulou and CEO Panayiotis Kavoulakos seemed to take for granted the reactions of certain bodies, adding that it is essential for the group to embark on an awareness campaign. «The environment is an issue that sells easily today. It is in many people’s interests to create a climate of resistance,» said Christodoulou. The environmental effects study by Italian firm Foster Wheeler Italiana in association with Asprofos SA, presented yesterday, showed that the investment will have a positive impact on the environment, as it will significantly reduce the pollution caused by the operation of the existing units. It will reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 70.2 percent, nitric oxide (NO) by 11.6 percent, small particles by 84.2 percent and the volume of processed liquid waste by 24 percent. The investment will generally benefit the environment through the use of the cleaner products to be produced, as well. The study found that the 154,000 tons of SO2 emitted into Greece’s atmosphere from the refinery process today will go down to just 3,500 tons after the upgrade. Athens-listed HELPE suggested that with this investment, it aims to produce fuel with virtually no concentration of sulfur. It will also minimize the production of fuel oil as it will be transformed into lighter products with low sulfur (diesel, naphtha, liquid gas); in this way meeting the fuel emission requirements of the European Union. The future operation of the refinery after the installation of the new units will include units for production and transformation, upgraded auxiliary units, environmental production units and installations for storing and distributing oil products. The production capacity of the Elefsina plant will remain at about 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day. When the investment is complete, 120 new and permanent jobs will be created, while another 1,500 will be needed for the construction work.