EPS Ethylene-Pipeline South secures industrial business locations in southern Germany
Munich, March 7, 2005 – Seven of the leading companies in the petrochemical and chemical industries have now joined forces to build the EPS Ethylene-Pipeline South. The new raw materials pipeline will connect the ethylene producers and processors in south-eastern Bavaria with the north-western European ethylene network. This project will create the infrastructure the southern German locations require to create and maintain a competitive edge in the industry. The Ethylene-Pipeline South will cover a distance of approximately 360 kilometers, running from Münchsmünster in Bavaria through Baden-Wuerttemberg to Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Connecting the petrochemical and chemical companies in Bavaria with the existing ethylene networks in the Rhine-Ruhr region is an important step in the direction of creating a pan-European pipeline network. The companies located in the Bavarian chemical triangle near Burghausen and Gendorf and the operations in Münchsmünster are relatively isolated. Although the production facilities there are connected with one another by an ethylene pipeline, they have no opportunity to export this raw material or to satisfy temporary demand elsewhere. The construction of the new pipeline will reinforce and in the long term improve the competitive edge of the industry in southern Germany. This forward-looking improvement in the infrastructure will serve not only to secure and retain current economic structures and jobs. In the long term, the EPS will play an integral role in advancing the development of the ethylene producing and processing industry – even beyond the borders of southern Germany.
The introduction of the regional planning process for the pipeline route at the beginning of 2005 was the first important step in the speedy execution of the construction project. Following the coordination of the pipeline route with the public authorities and public interest groups and the completion of further steps in the planning and approval process, construction is expected to commence at the beginning of 2007. The pipeline is then scheduled to go into operation by the end of 2007.
To minimize the area affected by the construction work, most of the 360-kilometer long pipeline will follow the routes already taken by existing lines. Consequently, approximately 320 kilometers will run parallel to lines that have already existed for many years. Only about 40 kilometers of the EPS will require the construction of a new line. By using existing lines and environmentally friendly construction methods, every effort will be made to avoid any intervention in nature and the landscape. The route will bypass any residential areas, water protection zones, protected forests and other natural, protected, ecologically sensitive areas.
Ensuring the safety of people and the environment is top priority in the construction of the pipeline. As a result, planning and building will meet the highest requirements of the legislators and regulatory authorities for pipeline routing and safety. The raw materials pipeline will undergo lengthy testing and checks and will not be released for operation until it has been approved by independent expert authorities, such as the TÜV (Technical Inspection Agency in Germany).
To build the ethylene pipeline, a plastic-coated, high-strength, corrosion-resistant steel pipe with a diameter of 25 centimeters will be laid underground at a depth of approximately 1.5 m. Section shut-down stations at intervals between 12 and 18 kilometers and central measuring systems will provide for the operating safety of the pipeline. All operations will also be constantly monitored using state-of-the-art inspection technology including land and air patrols. Once the construction phase has been completed, the ground above the pipeline will be recultivated.
Ethylene, an important raw material
Ethylene is a colorless gas with a faint sweet smell that is lighter than air under normal conditions. It is not hazardous to water. The ethylene in the pipeline is transported as a fluid, i.e. in a state somewhere between a gas and a liquid. Petrochemical companies obtain ethylene from natural gas and petroleum by cracking distillation, i.e. by breaking down hydrocarbons at high temperatures. Ethylene is an important raw material for the chemical industry, used in the production of many synthetic materials such as polyethylene, polyvinylchloride or polyvinyl acetate polymers. Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine our lives without the products that result. They include ceramic tile adhesive, plastic beverage bottles, plastic film packaging, wire insulation, window frames, household goods, equipment housings as well as additives and raw materials for pharmaceutical compounds, to name just a few examples.