Natural gas pipelines built and maintained to German standards exhibit a high safety level. According to the Energy Act and the High Pressure Gas Pipeline Regulation, these pipelines have to be built in accordance with the state of the art based on the technical rules of the DVGW (German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water). Continuous development of standards regarding materials, design, construction and operation have lead to a significant decrease in unintentional gas releases inevitably resulting from the operation of large gas grids.
Despite the precise legal and technical German framework for pipeline projects, a court ruling from the Higher Administrative Court in Lüneburg, Germany, has lately partially suspended the permission to built parts of the NEL pipeline (56”, 100 bar) due to safety concerns described in this presentation. In this decision, the technical safety of gas pipelines is judged in a different fashion than usually put into practice when dealing with risks associated with technical installations. In a nutshell, the decision reduces the safety measures primarily to safety distances between pipeline and residential areas. In the consequence, a new route for the pipeline had to be found, which is now under construction. Furthermore, the ruling has left a void of information about the criteria on which pipeline routing will have to be based in future projects.
The presentation addresses the consequences of the court ruling for pipeline projects in Germany, the position of different stakeholders impacted by the ruling and a description of how public acceptance for the new route of the pipeline has been successfully obtained.