The construction of the Transalpine Pipeline

The history of Transalpine Pipeline begins in the second half of the 1950s when economic development and the resulting demand for energy led to the need for new refining centres in areas of strategic importance to the Central European economy.

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In order to meet the growing energy demand in southern Germany and to strengthen the economy of Bavaria, the Bavarian State Minister for Transport and Economic Affairs, Otto Schedl, promoted the construction of new refineries near Ingolstadt which would have to be supplied through pipelines which were considered a safe and convenient means of transport.

This project was supported by the then President of ENI, Enrico Mattei who decided to build a refinery in Bavaria and a pipeline connection with Italy, the so-called CEL (Central European Pipeline) from Genoa to Ingolstadt, as a means of undermining the dominance of the majors.

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Construction began in 1961 but was delayed by high costs, successive arguments and environmental problems and was only finally completed in 1966 just as the refineries near Ingolstadt and Karlsruhe were already open and ready to receive crude oil.

In the meantime,other pipelines came into service in orderto overcome Bavaria’s shortage of energy: the SEPL (South European Pipeline) from Marseille to Karlsruhe started operations in 1962 and this was followed in 1963 by the RDO (Rhein-Donau Oelleitung) Pipeline from Karlsruhe to Ingolstadt and Neustadt.

In March 1963 a group of leading oil companies including ENI, BP, ESSO, and SHELL took up the idea of the Venetian financier, Marco Barnabò, of building a pipeline from the Adriatic to Bavaria, entrusting the Bechtel Corporation with the task of checking the feasibility of the project and obtaining the necessary approvals in just four months.

The 21 st November 1963 saw the first meeting of the TAL Consortium for the construction of the Transalpine Pipeline, whose aim was to create a third source of supply for southern Germany (alongside the facilities of Marseille and Genoa) and thereby ensure the continuity of energy delivery and the shortening of tanker journeys from Arabia or North Africa.

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Between 1964 and 1965, the three companies of the TAL Group (Società Italiana per l’Oleodotto Transalpino in Trieste, Transalpine Ölleitung in Österreich in Innsbruck and Deutsche Transalpine Oelleitung in Munich) were established for the operation of the pipeline.

The choice of the port of Trieste as the starting point of the system was based on both its strategic location in relation to the target market and on the depth of the seabed – a fact considered crucial not only because oil tankers are amongst the ships with the greatest draught but also because these draughts were, at the time, progressively increasing.

The construction of the marine terminal and the creation of a permanent flow of traffic gave an important boost to the development of the Port of Trieste and created numerous long-term benefits for the city's economy.

The construction of the pipeline began on 9th December 1964 and ended in June 1967.

The total cost of its implementation amounted to $ 192 million, 25% of which was borne by the same shareholders and the construction was considered one of the largest private investments of the period.

On 13th April 1967, the first tanker, Daphnella, berthed in the Port of Trieste, and in October of the same year the first batch of oil was ready to be sent to the refinery in Ingolstadt in Bavaria.

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In 1967 the direction of flow through the RDO Pipeline was changed and it began to transport crude oil from Ingolstadt to Karlsruhe.

In 1970 the Adria Wien Pipeline (AWP) was linked to the TAL system and started to supply the refinery in Schwechat near Vienna.

In 1972 the Rhein Donau Oelleitung (RDO) was acquired for supplying refineries in Karlsruhe and Neustadt. The TAL system was thus extended through the addition of two further branches, TAL-OR and TAL-NE.

In 1995 the TAL system was linked to the MERO pipeline in order to supply energy to the Czech Republic.

In 1997 the TAL Group took over the crude oil supply role of the Central European Pipeline (CEL) following its shutdown and subsequent conversion to gas transport.

It is due to the foresight of the visionary and resolute founders of the pipeline, coupled with the ability of the engineers and contractors who built the infrastructure in just 1,000 days, that today, 45 years later, we are able to enjoy this environmentally friendly and - still - pioneering means of transport.