The role of refining in Europe

Refineries are a vital part of Europe’s industrial base, providing economic benefits, essential products and security of supply. The industry is a driver of innovation and is crucial to a low-emission economy.


The role of refining in Europe

Refineries are a vital part of Europe’s industrial base, providing jobs, revenue, petroleum products, chemical raw materials, security and innovation. Europe’s refining industry is a key component of a competitive and low-carbon future for Europe. Often behind the scenes, refining provides many benefits to Europe, including:

Economic benefits

EU refining directly employs approximately 100,000 highly-skilled engineers, scientists and trade workers, with an additional 500,000 people indirectly employed in areas such as marketing and supply. The industry is a major source of revenue: every year, the EU refining industry contributes €240 billion to EU member state income through excise duties and taxes, corresponding to an average 7 percent of national revenue in the EU-28.

Essential products

Essential products and raw materials that we use every day have foundations in the refining sector, and crucial materials such as bitumen, lubricants, waxes, fuels, raw materials, and chemical feedstock for sectors like transport and heating all come from refining. Petrochemicals, derived from refining, have more uses than you can imagine!

Security of supply

Without refining, Europe’s energy supply would be far less secure. Oil will continue to play a leading role in Europe’s energy mix in 2040, and European refining ensures supply during short-term interruptions and imbalances. Diversity in energy and energy carriers continue to provide the European economy with flexibility, resilience and the possibility for the market to select the optimal solution for its many sectors and uses.

Driver of innovation

Finally, a driver of innovation, the refining industry places first among European industries for process innovation and is among the most innovative industries for products. Technological development in the refining industry has helped the sector reduce its environmental footprint, enabling it to improve its energy efficiency at a rate of 1 percent per year. This is expected to further increase with scaling up of technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Crucial to a low-emission economy

As recognized by leading institutions, including the European Commission and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology has the potential to play a crucial role in significant emission reductions, enabling a smooth energy transition to a low-carbon economy, while maintaining industrial competitiveness. In fact, CCS is among one of the most important innovative and next-generation technologies and can enable emissions reductions at an acceptable cost with benefits for all stakeholders, according to the IPCC. 

ExxonMobil is one of the top players in the development of CCS technology and we’re investing in fundamental research to develop breakthrough carbon capture technologies with the aim to reduce complexity, lower costs, and ultimately encourage wide-spread deployment of this crucial technology both in Europe and globally.

Read more about developing the cutting-edge CCS technology here.

See more on what oil refining means to Europe here.