Tank storage in Germany fulfils a very specific distribution role in the country's energy supply chain and is well-known internationally for being strong, stable and reliable.
Independent tank storage in Germany complements the supply of products being directly offered by German refiners and as a result operators locate their terminals over the whole landscape with hubs located in areas with a high population and critical transport infrastructure.
Individual terminals are also located along strategic transport routes such as inland waterways and railway lanes as part of their core distribution functionality.
In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine, Frank Schaper, executive director of German Tank Storage Association UTV, says: 'The structure of German tank storage providers is reasonably diversified. Currently it is a mix of international logistics companies and privately owned companies focused on the energy trading and supply market.
'Compared to countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands or Spain the German independent tank storage market has only minor shares in the storage of chemicals and gases.'
For several years the country has benefits from both a strong national and European economy with consistent annual GNP increases, which has increased energy consumption and the need for strategic storage volumes. However, Schaper says that this upward trend will not continue indefinitely.
'This development will not continue forever and consequently will also have an impact on inland consumption and distribution volumes.
'It could be a realistic scenario that in times of a declining economy in Europe, and in combination with a decreasing need for independent tank storage capacities, the market will be facing a natural consolidation process. At the end of this process, assets located at less important strategic locations combined with lower flexibility could be the victims of this consolidation process.'
But there are still plenty of opportunities for storage operators to take advantage of and strengthen their market position according to Schaper.
'A realistic and proven scenario could be improved cooperation with the petro(chemical) industry to ensure that independent tank storage facilities become an integral part of the industrial supply and logistics chain.'
Looking ahead, the ongoing energy transition discussion is one of the biggest challenges for the German tank storage sector, according to Schaper. 'As this industry is mainly focused on the handling and distribution of fossil energy carriers such as gasoline, diesel and heating oil, the politically triggered attempt to replace the combustion engine by the battery electric vehicle will have a huge impact on the industry.
'The German Tank Storage Association has started to address this risk to its members in order to sharpen the sensitivity. In parallel, we have addressed the message to politicians that a full electric society represents an unrealistic scenario. In this context, the association is supporting the further development and political acceptance of carbon neutral synthetic fuels.'
Schaper will be talking more about the tank storage sector in Germany on the morning of the first day of the StocExpo Europe conference from March 26 - 28 in Rotterdam. For more information visit www.stocexpo.com.
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