Sven Eric Utsch, managing partner at Utsch & Partners, provides an overview of tank storage – and one of the industry’s key players – in Germany
‘Fluessiggutlagerung’, translated as ‘fluid good storage’, is the German technical term for tank storage. Germany, often identified internationally by its quality engineering skills, likes to create terms that name as many components of any structure as are needed to describe something completely.
This can lead to a dilemma and the need for an additional term as natural gas can also be stored in such ‘Gutlagern’ (good storages) which in turn is referred to as ‘Gaslager’ (natural gas storage).
Since natural gas is often stored in liquid form, one would think that we can go back to ‘Fluessiggutlagerung’ to identify it, however that is not the case. The storage of liquefied gas is called ‘Fluessiggaslager’ (fluid gas storage). That in turn could cause English-speakers, especially those from the US, to think of the warehousing of unleaded 89 or 95 used to fuel their cars and trucks.
Germany also prides itself on its ‘Mittelstand’ and has some companies of that status in the tank storage industry. Mittelstand companies are comparable to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in any industrialised country.
They generally have turnover of €1 million to €100 million although there are much bigger companies considering themselves ‘Mittelstand’ in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry in Germany. Significant for the Mittelstand is that they are owned, and very often also operated, by private families.
The Unabhängiger Tanklagerverband (Association of Independent Tank Storages) counts 18 members and claims that these members with 12 million m3 of storage capacity at 83 locations covers almost the entire oil, gas and petrochemical storage capacity processed within Germany.
While the association points out that tank storage is part of the infrastructure and serves import and export markets, most of the storage capacity of the independent tank storage operators serves the supply of base products needed to produce higher-value products in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and to fuel the millions of tonnes of transport vehicles on Germany’s roads every day.
Despite the country’s ambition to be as environmentally friendly as possible, it still gets most of the energy needed to be one of the biggest industrialised countries worldwide through the burning and processing of fossil resources and derivatives.
In fact, in 2016 Germany has around 2.7 million trucks officially registered and on its roads. Even small trucks are allowed to transport 7.5 mts. and upwards of goods and products, which requires 800 liters of diesel fuel per tank stop.
Assuming that each registered truck only fuels once a week, which is overly simplified and unrealistic, each month around eight billion liters of diesel fuel is used by the registered German fleet of trucks alone, which equates to about 54 million barrels of diesel for German transportation companies. This does not include trucks travelling into and through Germany from its nine neighbouring countries. The German Bundesamt für Umwelt (Federal Ministry for Environment) has calculated that in 2013, the German truck fleet consumed this amount each day of the year.
While there has been an emphasis to convert energy consumption in Germany to renewables, the reality is that the country will still rely on fossil energy sources for some time. This requires storage capacity to get fossil resource-based energy derivatives to the end user.
In addition, German chemical and pharmaceutical companies are among the biggest processors of petrochemicals also derived from fossil fuel. German tank storage companies the represents very good business.
It is therefore not surprising that Mittelstand oil, gas and petrochemical storage companies are among the biggest in the country. The leader in this segment is probably Marquard & Bahls in Hamburg. While it still is a family-owned company, it has a turnover more expected from a corporation – in 2015, the company reported a turnover of €12.5 billion.
In a country that is not known for favorable tax rates, this is a significant amount. With its tank storage operating subsidiary Oiltanking it is the second largest independent tank storage operator worldwide.
While the word ‘Fluessiggutlagerung’ conjures up the likes of Shell, BP, Exxon and the like, Marquard & Bahls is quite unknown even in Germany but it is none the less a crucial part of Germany’s economy and within the tank storage industry.
Utsch will be speaking on the first day of the Tank Storage Germany conference at Hamburg Messe on November 16 and 17 about the regulatory environment in Germany for tank storage. For more information visit www.tankstoragegermany.com