Pipeline systems for the transportation of gases, such as town and city gas and chemical industry gases, have existed in Germany since the 1920s and 30s. The first large pipeline for crude oil in Germany, the North-West Oil Pipeline from Wilhelmshafen to Cologne was laid in 1958. Up to this time, there had only been rough rules and guidelines for the construction and testing of pipelines.
Since the 1960s, pipelines in Germany have been covered by laws, official regulations and technical rules, which were further refined in the 70s. In the following decades, these technical rules and regulations were modified only to a slight extent. However, pipeline legislation in Germany was comprehensively revised in 2002. While the regulations which applied up to that time mostly focused on occupational health and safety, the new regulations are based on protection of the environment and the population.
Since 2002, the basis for approval of new pipelines has been the law regarding environmental impact assessment (UVPG) and the Federal Pipeline Ordinance (RohrFLtgV). However, these do not apply for all pipelines to the same extent.
The pipelines covered by the law are specified in Annex 1 of the UVPG itself. Different approval procedures are required depending on the type of substance to be transported and the length and diameter of the pipeline.
As from a certain size of the pipeline project, e.g. 40 km in length, the UVPG specifies a more complex infrastructure planning approval procedure (Planfeststellungsverfahren-PFV). For smaller projects, it may only be necessary to undertake the normal and less complex planning procedure (Plangenehmigungsverfahren-PGV). However, if it appears that smaller projects may have a major impact on the environment, it may be necessary to employ the more complex procedure.
While public participation is not obligatory in the normal planning procedure, the public must always be consulted in the case of the more complex procedure. If the pipeline has less than a specified diameter - e.g. (DN 300 / 12”) for gaseous substances which are not hazardous to water or (DN 150 / 6”) for liquefied forms of such substances - the law regarding environmental impact assessment is not enforced, and the earlier regulations apply.
In 2003, the Technical Rules for Pipeline Installations (TRFL), which regulate the planning, construction, operation and testing of pipelines, were introduced. These technical rules are based on the existing Technical Rules for Flammable Liquids (TRbF). The Technical Rules for Pipeline Installations (TRFL) reflect the current state of technology with regard to pipelines for the transportation of hazardous substances, with the exception of natural gas. They are regularly updated by the Pipeline Commission (AfR).
In the case of natural gas pipelines, the Technical Rules of the DVGW, the German Scientific and Technical Association for Gas and Water, apply. These technical rules are also reviewed by corresponding committees and adapted to the state of technology as required.