The need for European pipeline networks

Pipelink was a guest at the European Industry & Energy Summit 2022 at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, Netherlands at the end of November. The two-day event saw dozens of speakers from the process industry and energy sector present solutions to combat climate change. Including Michel Leyseele, managing director of Pipelink and Maurice Pelsers, managing director of Petrochemical Pipeline Services (PPS). Here is a review of their plea for the development of common carriers in Northwestern Europe.

The importance of European common carriers

Northwestern Europe urgently needs cross-border common carriers and this is because of the current energy crisis, supply problems, and growing challenges around energy transition, Leyseele & Pelsers stress.

Remarkably, unlike in the United States of America, pipelines in Northwestern Europe very often stop at country borders. According to Leyseele & Pelsers, this has all to do with national and sometimes even regional legislation and their licensing and permitting issues, political polarisation, and constant election fever, resulting in short-term decisions, nimbyism among residents and firms, and so on. And above all, the persistent mindset that neighbouring countries are not partners, but only customers or, worse, competitors. For example, the Antwerp Rotterdam Rhine Ruhr Cluster (ARRR) is viewed not as one mega-cluster, but as a collection of more than twenty local chemical clusters. However, the same parties curiously regard Houston, which is much larger in area, as one cluster.

TRILOG as a catalyst

Time for change, then. This is why TRILOG was established in 2017, a partnership between the Belgian region of Flanders, the Netherlands and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is intended to result in specific actions aimed at a sustainable future vision for the chemical sector.

TRILOG is a collaboration between Port of Antwerp-Bruges (and its subsidiary Pipelink), Port of Rotterdam, and seven petrochemical players: Sabic (and its subsidiary PPS), Dow, Evonik, Basell Polyolefins, BASF, INEOS, BP, and Borealis. In addition to the development of cross-border pipelines, TRILOG is exploring five more initiatives.

Successful start

Leyseele & Pelsers underline that favourable framework conditions must be created in order to realise European pipeline networks. At the same time, much has already been realised:

  1. Possible products, routes, border crossings, distances and locations to be connected have been investigated.
  2. Petrochemical companies have collaborated on a survey to identify industry needs.
  3. And the Netherlands, Flanders and North Rhine Westphalia signed a joint declaration of intent on 5 May 2021.

The pair of speakers concluded the talk with a positive note and a hopeful outlook: the existing ARG (Aetylen-Rohrleitungs-Geselschaft) pipeline network for ethylene is already one good example of this kind of successful cooperation between the Belgian, German and Dutch chemical industries.

Interesting in finding out more about common carriers or a European pipeline network? Contact Pipelink.