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Success stories

Environment: Repsol Water Tool

Close-up of a river

Moving towards excellence in sustainable water management

At Repsol, we use water for many processes, both at our refining and chemicals industrial centers and in our exploration and production operations.

Ensuring a quality and sufficient supply of this scarce resource is fundamental to the continuity of our operations in all our facilities. Consequently, water management is one of our Company’s main environmental challenges for 2025.

 The most important areas we are working on are as follows:

Identifying the most important risks (non-guaranteed water supply scenarios, impact of water discharge, loss of social license for water use).
Promoting internal reuse of water
Analyzing alternative sources.
Reducing water intensity and the impacts of water discharge.

To help us in this task, we have an in-house developed tool — the Repsol Water Tool (RWT) — which gives us a comprehensive view of how we manage this resource, as well as the risks associated with each facility both internally (how this resource is used and consumed in different processes, treatment and quality of discharge, etc.) and externally (availability, quality, and ecosystems that provide us with water or that are affected by discharge, competition for the water resource, etc.).

We developed this tool in 2012, and it is based on the Global Environmental Management Initiative’s (GEMI) Local Water Tool and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Global Water Tool (GWT). In 2018, we updated it with the aim of improving usability and updating some methodological aspects.

With its results, our experts identify the aspects to be improved and design specific action plans for each installation, focusing on three lines of work: improving our understanding of the environment and of how water is used, efficient management of water resources, and improving water treatment technologies. The goals and steps included in the action plans are designed considering both the local environment and facility-specific aspects.

Efficient water management will be society’s biggest challenge over the coming decades.

Water is essential for the sustainable development of society and reduces poverty, improves people’s quality of life, and drives economic growth.

The OECD estimates that industry’s water demand will increase by 400% from 2000 – 2050, and the amount of water extracted for energy production will increase by a fifth between 2010 and 2035. Likewise, water consumption could increase by 85%, driven by the transition towards more efficient power plants with more advanced cooling systems.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2030 consumption will increase 85% worldwide due to the growing population, high population density in large cities, and the economic development of emerging countries.

Water is also essential in the oil and gas sector. As a result, the challenge is to strike a balance between the use of both these resources for energy production.

Water is used in key processes in all Repsol areas. The highest consumption can be found in refining and chemicals, where it is mostly used for steam production and cooling processes.
Dew drops on a leaf

Management model

At Repsol, we have been sustainably managing water at our facilities for decades, focusing our efforts on finding new solutions to minimize the use of this natural resource, using it more efficiently, and preserving its quality.

Searching for alternative sources that guarantee water supply

  • In our shale gas operations, we optimize water consumption and analyze and select alternatives to fresh water, such as groundwater, wastewater, produced water, or flowback water, using the best treatment technologies.
  • In areas where water is scarce, and for exploration projects, rainwater has been used as an alternative to surface water sources.
  • Likewise, we have adopted the best practices of local communities, who have taught us traditional techniques to optimize the use of this scarce natural resource in some parts of the world, such as the Reggane project in Algeria.
  • Our industrial complex in Tarragona (Spain) uses non-fresh regenerated water from a wastewater treatment plant, thereby reducing the use of fresh water.

Adapting our water management to meet the most demanding international standards

  • Our industrial complexes in Spain and Portugal are constantly implementing measures and making investments to adapt to the best available techniques.
  • Likewise, all of our Exploration & Production operations meet a set of common internal minimum criteria (EPP: Environmental Performance Practices), regardless of their geographic area. These criteria establish discharge parameters for sanitary effluent and produced water and for their environmental impact, and also prohibit any practices that could eventually lead to the contamination of the underground soil and water.

Reducing the intensity of water used per barrel of crude produced or processed

  • As a way to be more efficient and competitive when manufacturing the Company’s products. For example, in refineries and chemical plants, we have taken measures to optimize water use in steam production and cooling processes.
  • With this project, we positively contribute to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda through the following SDGs: