EPS Pipeline Officially Opened at Ceremony in Munich
Ismaning, July 19, 2013 – Germany’s EPS pipeline (Ethylen-Pipeline-Süd) has now officially come on stream. A ceremony held in Munich on Friday, July 19, celebrated the completion of this key infrastructure project. Numerous guests from the worlds of politics and industry – including Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, and Martin Zeil, Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs – paid tribute to the commissioning of the 370-km-long pipeline between the Bavarian town of Münchsmünster and Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate.
In his speech, European Commissioner Oettinger said: “The new pipeline will secure supplies of ethylene for the companies accessing it. Such infrastructure is becoming ever more important across all sectors in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.” Oettinger, a former minister president of Baden-Württemberg (southwestern Germany), sees the EPS as “further strengthening the south German industrial alliance.” For Martin Zeil, Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs and deputy minister president, the EPS is a “an interstate infrastructure project of crucial importance for the entire south German region.”
The EPS pipeline forms a key part of the European ethylene network. In Münchsmünster, Bavaria (southeastern Germany), the pipeline connects with the Münchsmünster-Gendorf-Burghausen pipeline that has been in operation for decades, while at the other end, in Ludwigshafen, it is joined to the northwest European ethylene pipeline grid. Manfred Leitner, who is a member of the executive board of Austrian petrochemical company OMV and responsible for Refineries and Marketing, stressed the advantages of the EPS pipeline: “By connecting to this integrated network, the ‘Bavarian Chemical Triangle’ has overcome the competitive disadvantages posed by its isolated location. The decision to construct the EPS pipeline has acted as a trigger for new investments and the creation of jobs.”
The EPS pipeline now enables ethylene to be transported from Rotterdam in the Netherlands or from the Ruhr region via Cologne and Frankfurt right down to Burghausen on the Austrian border – and of course in the other direction as well.
For the companies involved, the EPS pipeline represents a stepping stone to the future for the entire southeastern region of Bavaria and, naturally, for what is known as the Bavarian Chemical Triangle. Before the advent of the pipeline, ethylene produced in Bavaria could be sold only to customers within the same region. As Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, President & CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, stated, the pipeline puts an end to this position of isolation, which is a great success in itself: “The EPS pipeline makes it possible to guarantee supplies to consumers of ethylene even when demand is at its peak, and to make production surpluses available to other consumers.”
Ethylene is an essential basic product for firms operating in the chemical and petrochemical industries. It is used in the production of numerous plastics, such as polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These plastics find their way into a wide array of everyday goods, including packaging film, household appliances and automotive fittings, as well as tile adhesives, dry-mix mortar and paints.
The underground EPS pipeline runs from Münchsmünster for a distance of about 103 km through Bavaria and a further 197 km across Baden-Württemberg before ending in Ludwigshafen, Rhineland-Palatinate, 70 km later. Hans-Joachim de la Camp of the German technical inspection authority TÜV Süd explains that the pipeline had no trouble meeting all the conditions for safe operation: “With four control procedures in place simultaneously, the pipeline is truly state of the art.” The central control station for the EPS pipeline functions around the clock to ensure safe operations. What is more, the entire route of the pipeline is regularly checked by inspectors on foot, in vehicles and from the air.