Energy transition

Four pipelines to provide boost to economy, energy transition and safety along railway tracks

19 May 2021
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The construction of four new pipelines between Rotterdam, Chemelot and North Rhine-Westphalia for the transport of C4-LPG, propylene, hydrogen and CO2 will yield several benefits. This is the conclusion of a feasibility study commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Chemelot chemical industrial park. The initiators have agreed to move swiftly forward with the plans under the title ‘Delta Corridor’.

Delta Corridor

There are a number of benefits to laying the pipelines between the port of Rotterdam and Chemelot in Limburg. Firstly, it will mean fewer trains carrying hazardous materials along the Brabant route, which could create housing development opportunities along the track. Secondly, industry at Chemelot will benefit from safe and sustainable connections to other industry clusters, which will strengthen Chemelot’s competitive position. Thirdly, pipelines for hydrogen and CO2 will hand industry opportunities to make production processes more sustainable. Pipelines for C4-LPG and propylene will also support the transition: C4-LPG is a more sustainable alternative raw material to naphtha, which is widely used at the moment, and propylene can eventually be replaced by bio-propylene. Fourthly, construction of the pipelines is key to the port of Rotterdam developing into a sustainable energy port. Last but not least, companies located along the route that can use or produce any of these four substances will be able to take advantage of ‘linking options’. Industry at Moerdijk is one example.

Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management): “The results of the feasibility study are positive and so the plans can be worked out in greater detail. We’ll be doing this in association with the provinces, the port of Rotterdam, the Chemelot chemical complex, as well as with Germany and Belgium. The plan will help bring about a safe means of transportation. As it will run underground, accessibility will also benefit.”

Allard Castelein, CEO port of Rotterdam Authority: “The ‘Delta Corridor’ project will be crucial in helping industry in Chemelot and North Rhine-Westphalia become more sustainable, and consequently for the port of Rotterdam to continue playing a key role in the energy system of the future. This is important for the employment and economic prosperity created by the port of Rotterdam. The first port that is connected to inland industry by pipelines for hydrogen and CO2 will have an edge over its competitors in Northwest Europe.”

Loek Radix, Executive Director of Chemelot: “Pipelines provide a safe, reliable and energy-efficient way of transporting large quantities of hazardous materials. While road and rail are also safe modes, they are more vulnerable than pipelines when it comes to interaction with other traffic and, at a later stage, there are likely to be capacity issues due to an increase in volume. Laying the proposed pipeline will mark a significant step towards long-term investments in the National Energy Infrastructure for the Chemelot and Rotterdam chemical complexes. In addition, the pipeline route will strengthen Europe’s competitive position because of the opportunities it will create for connecting chemical clusters in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.”

Christophe van der Maat, Delegate for the Province of North Brabant (VVD - Mobility, Finance and Organisation): “Sustainable pipeline transport between Rotterdam and Limburg cannot merely pass through Brabant; it has to work for Brabant. It must mean fewer trains carrying hazardous materials along the Brabant route, it must connect to our energy system, and increase the future viability of our businesses and industry clusters. The laying of pipes and, potentially, a direct current cable will go towards solving the societal challenges we face, including in Brabant.”

Floor Vermeulen, Delegate for the Province of South Holland: “The province wants to help bring about a modal shift, resulting in more freight being transported by water, rail and, by extension, through pipelines. All this will go towards increasing transport safety and reducing congestion. There is already a major pipeline corridor between Rotterdam and Antwerp, and this study strengthens the case for laying new pipelines to Germany, which will help us bolster South Holland’s position as a gateway to Europe for the transport of new energy carriers such as hydrogen.”

The simultaneous construction of the four pipelines between Rotterdam and Chemelot will cost over €1 billion including VAT (-/+ 40%). The cost of laying the pipelines one at a time would be €365 million higher, and the inconvenience during construction significantly greater. The study shows that the Rotterdam-Moerdijk-Tilburg-Venlo-Chemelot route would be the most favourable one for the ‘Delta Corridor’. This route is included in the national Structural Vision on Pipelines (2012).

The study shows that for the Dutch section alone, a pipeline bundle would be economically unfeasible. Extending the pipelines to North Rhine-Westphalia and Antwerp will mean they could be significantly better utilised. This is essential in terms of cost recovery.

Industry at Chemelot is set to use more C4-LPG as a raw material over the next few years. As such, it would be preferable to lay the pipes quickly. In the context of making long-term plans, industry will also need clarity with regard to the construction of the pipelines.