Secure oil supply: HIMA protects Europe’s biggest petroleum pipeline

HIMA is upgrading the safety systems of the Transalpine Pipeline to the latest state of the art. The Transalpine Pipeline operated by the TAL Group runs north from the harbour in Trieste (Italy) over the Alps and is one of the safest, most reliable and most important petroleum supply systems in Europe.

With a total length of 753 km, it supplies a large part of energy needs in Germany (40%), Austria (90%) and the Czech Republic (50%). In 2016 alone, the Transalpine Pipeline transported 41.4 million tonnes of crude oil from the coast of northern Italy to these three countries. The amount of crude oil carried daily corresponds on average to about 10,000 tanker lorry trips. HIMA initially modernized the safety technology of the pipeline in 1997, and two decades later the Brühl-based experts are again updating the safety systems to the latest state of the art.

Dual modernization

In 2013 the TAL Group decided to further modernize the safety systems of the Transalpine Pipeline. During this modernization, the safety controllers in the terminal, pumping, pressure relief and transfer stations are being replaced by SIL-3 certified HIMax controllers, and HIMatrix (SIL 3) safety systems are being deployed in the valve stations. Along with functional safety, the future-proof safety systems provide a high degree of cybersecurity, thanks in part to their independence from the process control system.

Twenty years ago, the Brühl-based safety experts replaced the existing pipeline safety systems with modern HIMA safety controllers. Since then these controllers have provided for reliable crude oil transport over the Alps, as well as Transalpine Pipeline compliance with extremely stringent safety demands. The HIMA systems ensure emergency shutdown (ESD) of the pipeline and help to keep the pipe pressure within the specified limits. If an incident occurs, for example a pump outage, the resulting pressure increase is counteracted by the targeted release of oil into pressure relief tanks.

Double protection

To ensure high availability, the pipeline terminal station in Ingolstadt was equipped with distributed redundant safety systems located in different control rooms. This allows even the total outage of a control room, for example due to fire, to be accommodated. The sophisticated safety concept takes every conceivable hazard situation into account. Even in the event of a total outage of the Ingolstadt terminal station, the Transalpine Pipeline can continue operating safely under remote control from systems in Trieste and Munich.
“Safety is about prevention, qualification, monitoring and technical innovation”, says Johann Stopp, project manager for Electrical/Instruments Technical Assets at TAL. “In these areas HIMA has an outstanding track record as a competent and reliable partner over a period of two decades. The modernization of the safety systems, which we aim to complete with HIMA in the 2019/2020 time frame, is intended to safeguard the transport operation of the Transalpine Pipeline with regard to safety and security for the coming decades.”

Technical details

HIMA controllers have been providing for the safety of the Transalpine Pipeline since 1997. At the start of the project at that time, HIMA analysed all conceivable problem scenarios and thoroughly tested the new safety controllers in an extensive integrated factory acceptance test (IFAT) extending over six months. Now all safety systems are being modernized one by one. The first step consists of upgrading the controllers of the pipeline stations in Austria. The Transalpine Pipeline sections in Germany and Italy will follow suite in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, respectively.

The Transalpine Pipeline, with a total length of 753 km, also passes through narrow valleys in East Tyrol. All photos © TAL

TAL tank farm in Lenting (Ingolstadt). The Transalpine Pipeline originates at the Port of Trieste and passes through the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Italy, over the Alps, and through Austria to Ingolstadt in Upper Bavaria.


Background: the TAL Group

The TAL Group was established in the 1960s to take over operation of the Transalpine Pipeline. It consists of three national companies with respective headquarters in Germany, Austria and Italy. The partners of the TAL Group include major players in the global oil business: OMV, Shell, Rosneft, ENI, C-Blue Limited (Gunvor), BP, Exxon Mobil, MERO ČR, Phillips 66/Jet Filling Stations, and Total.

The Transalpine Pipeline
Construction of the Transalpine Pipeline started on 9 December, 1964, and was completed in June 1967. It was an enormous project. The construction costs amounted to USD 192 million, equivalent to about €1.2 billion today. A total of 41,000 individual pipes were used in the construction, each twelve metres long and weighing three tonnes. Some 8,000 engineers, technicians and workers were involved in the design and implementation tasks. The Transalpine Pipeline originates at the Port of Trieste and passes through the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Italy, over the Alps, and through Austria to Ingolstadt in Upper Bavaria. The pipeline splits into two branches at Ingolstadt. One branch runs westward and ends near Karlsruhe, while the other runs eastward and ends near Neustadt. The entire crude oil supply of the German federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg is provided by the Transalpine Pipeline. For safety reasons as well as environmental protection, the pipeline runs underground over nearly its entire length.


  • Total length: 753 km
  • Maximum pipeline elevation: 1,572 m
  • Number of refineries supplied: 8


HIMA solutions provide high safety and security
The safety solutions from HIMA provide for safe pipeline operation. The primary goal is to effectively protect people and the environment.

  • Experienced experts: HIMA safety specialists have been supporting the project since 1997. They have detailed knowledge of the circumstances and requirements of the highly complex Transalpine Pipeline.
  • On-schedule implementation: HIMA carries out all tasks reliably and exactly on schedule – an important consideration for long-term modernization projects.
  • Maximum security: TÜV and SIL 3 certified HIMax and HIMatrix safety controllers provide high system availability.
  • Future-proof: The HIMax and HIMatrix systems deployed by HIMA comply with the IEC 61508 and IEC 61511 standards. They provide effective protection against the growing threat of cyberattacks.

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