Pipelines are used for the transport of oil, gas, or condensate. There are pipelines that only cross the German continental shelf (so-called transit pipelines) and those that also land on the German coast.

Approval regime

The laying of pipelines requires prior official approval. The project developer must submit a corresponding application. This application must be accompanied by documents indicating the type and scope of the planned project and, in particular, any possible impairment of legal interests (life, health, property, public interests). Further details are regulated by the legal basis - the Federal Mining Act (BBerG).

The special feature of the approval procedure under mining law is that it is divided into two sub-areas. On the one hand, it requires a mining permit (§ 133 para. 2 in conjunction with § 133 para. 1 no. 1 BBergG). This is issued by the respective competent state authority. In the North Sea area this is the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology in Clausthal-Zellerfeld, and in the Baltic Sea area this is the Mining Authority in Stralsund. The mining authorities examine whether the project is in conflict with mining law interests.

On the other hand, approval from the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is required. The BSH examines whether the project is in accordance with the proper use of the waters above the continental shelf and the airspace above these waters (§ 133 para. 2 in conjunction with § 133 para. 1 no. 2 BBergG). Further details of the licensing requirements and grounds for refusal are contained in § 133 para. 2 sentence 1 in conjunction with § 132 Para. 2 No. 3 BBergG. Thus the permit may only be refused if public interests, such as the use of shipping lanes, or the flora and fauna, are impaired or there is a risk of pollution of the sea.

Sometimes it may also be necessary to carry out an environmental impact assessment. This is when the pipeline reaches or exceeds a certain length and/or a certain diameter. Further details are given in Annex I of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (UVPG).

Enforcement procedures

Once approval has been granted, the project is subject to supervision by the BSH. If necessary, the BSH may issue orders to ensure proper implementation.