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One of the fundamental sustainable development principles NIS follows is that all business projects have a positive impact on the communities the company works in and on future generations. This is why, since 2009, NIS has invested over 13 billion dinars into environmental protection projects in all business segments, including 534 million in 2019.
In 2019, we continued working on improving the environmental standards of the Pancevo Refinery. First, we implemented a series of projects aimed at bringing the refinery units in compliance with the Directive 2010/75/ EZ on industrial emissions and tightened limits on atmospheric emissions of pollutants. To limit the impact on wastewater quality, NIS continued the program of installing separators on fuel stations. In upstream, the company uses the latest technologies to minimize environmental impact and use the natural resources sustainably, while continuing to work on the remediation of historical contamination. Since 2009, the company has cleaned up the total area of 150.612 square meters. To contribute to the development of the petroleum industry in the country, in September 2019, NIS opened a modern training center for oil and gas professionals in the town of Elemir. This state-of-the-art facility can accommodate about 150 students per year. It will offer both NIS employees and personnel from other companies in the region the best conditions to develop their professional knowledge and skills. This will not only improve the expertise level in the industry but will also contribute to better health and safety performance.
NIS keeps working on its cogeneration program, which means that the associated gas produced together with oil is no longer flared off, but instead used to produce heat and electricity. Apart from the economic benefits, this also helps reduce CO2 emissions into the air. The company continues its work on improving the HSE culture to ensure the safety of all employees, contractors, and visitors on NIS facilities. During the HSE Forum, we presented a new Stairs safety program that offers a transparent approach to the distribution of authority and responsibilities in the contractor management process and helps improve safety.
NIS remains a reliable partner to its shareholders and investors. In 2019, for the seventh year in a row, our shareholders received 6.5 billion dinars in dividends, which is 25% from the company’s net profit. It means that since 2013, which was the first year NIS paid dividends; our shareholders received over 54.6 billion dinars. The company’s best practices and a transparent approach to business also contributed to the development of the business community in the country, which was confirmed by the fact NIS was awarded the Gold Plaque from the Belgrade Stock Exchange for the best investor relations.
NIS cares about the well-being of its employees and focuses on their professional growth. This is why in 2019, the company invested 257 million dinars into training courses and seminars with over 4000 people attending. We have developed a new HR strategy, which focuses on improving the work climate for the people to be happier and more successful. Health of employees has always been a priority, so in 2019, the company traditionally organized medical checkups as well as free access to sports activities, that was used by a third of all employees.
Committed to contribute to the development of education in the country, NIS keeps hosting college students for internships. We started a new program titled NIS Calling, where we offer 320 hours of intern engagement students can use in the course of three months along with their college activities. This program is aimed at college students in their third, fourth, or fifth year on one of Serbia’s universities or Serbian students studying abroad. If offers internships in almost all sectors of the company. In 2019 year, 60 qualified to participate. NIS is also actively working on attracting Serbian expats back into the country. Convincing the best professionals to return to Serbia and continue their careers in NIS we contribute to the further development of the country.
We stay committed to supporting local communities, fostering young talent and promoting scientific, educational, and cultural events. In 2019, NIS invested over 371 million dinars into various social responsibility projects, donating 116.5 million out of that amount to healthcare institutions across the country under our Together for the Community program. Our employees involved with the NIS Volunteer Club do their part by organizing numerous events to support vulnerable social groups, children, and young people, and help protect the environment.