This year the IKL international
crude oil pipeline celebrates 20 years of operation.

MERO ČR, a.s., owner and operator of the IKL pipeline, has prepared an overview of interesting information about this unique work.


IKL crude oil pipeline

The IKL crude oil pipeline was created as an alternative supply to the Druzhba pipeline.
Political and economic changes in the 1990s and the subsequent problems of Russian mining
companies have led to concerns about the reliability of oil supplies from Russia.
Therefore, the then Czechoslovakia decided to build a new pipeline connected to
infrastructure in Western Europe.

The acronym IKL refers to the original plan to build a pipeline
along the route Ingolstadt - Kralupy nad Vltavou - Litvínov.
The pipeline ultimately leads from Vohburg to Nelahozeves,
but the name has remained unchanged.

169 km in the Czech Republic
178 km in Germany
11,5 million tons

total capacity per year

20 years of the crude oil pipeline

The IKL crude oil pipeline begins in Vohburg, in Bavaria.
It is connected to the European TAL crude oil pipeline
leading to the Italian port of Trieste, where tankers bringing
oil from around the world. In Germany, the IKL leads south from
Regensburg, then turns to the north and enters the Czech Republic
at Rozvadov. It passes through Tachovsko (Plzeň Region), around
Krušovice (Central Bohemian Region), to the central crude oil tank
farm in Nelahozeves. From here, the oil goes to Kralupy or via the Druzhba
pipeline to Litvínov.

In Germany, the IKL crude oil pipeline passes
through the cadastral area of 6 districts
and 34 municipalities.
In the Czech Republic it passes through 93 cadastral areas in five districts.
In Germany, property right proceedings involved
approximately 1,500 land owners or tenants.
In the Czech Republic the crude oil pipeline
passes through approximately 4,000 land parcels.
Vohburg tank farm: storage capacity 200,000 m3 (3x 40,000 and 1x 80,000)
Nelahozeves central crude oil tank farm: storage capacity of 1,550,000 m3 (4x 50,000 and 6x 100,000 and 6x 125,000)

Construction of the IKL crude oil pipeline

The idea of becoming independent from the oil transported through the Druzhba pipeline began to be actively developed in the middle of 1990. The construction of the pipeline was approved by a resolution of the government of the Czech Republic dated the 4th of February 4, 1992, and the Bavarian government approved the pipeline project on the 15th of February, 1992.

It was necessary to base the project on the regulations and standards of both countries, so that the resulting parameters of the crude oil pipeline matched the legislative requirements. On the Bavarian side, the difficult permitting process involved five Bavarian state ministries, 6 provincial offices, 34 municipal councils, the State Agency for Water Management, the Provincial Antiquities Authority, 6 water management offices, 2 top forestry offices, 8 forestry offices, the expert organization TÜV and numerous experts on specialized issues.

Despite all of its complexities and difficulties, the project was implemented in record time, and test operation was launched at the beginning of January 1996.

Construction of the tank farm in Vohburg
Construction of IKL in Germany
Construction of IKL in Czech Republic
Construction of IKL in Czech Republic
The opening ceremony of the IKL crude oil pipeline at the central tank farm in Nelahozeves
During the construction, there was an emphasis on protecting the environment. Building permits set e.g. the exact date for priority completion of a section measuring 11.1 km in length in order to protect birds and their nesting sites.
In Germany, the crude oil pipeline crosses five major rivers (Danube, Regen, Abens, Schwarzach, Ilm). It is conducted under their riverbed at a depth of several meters (e.g. 3.5 m in the Danube, 6 m in the Regen).
An archaeological survey was carried out during the construction. Shards of ceramic plates, bowls, mugs and also coins from the Roman era were found.


construction of the Vohburg tank farm begins


construction of the IKL crude oil pipeline begins


the Czech and German parts are linked


first oil from TAL in the Vohburg tank farm


IKL is filled with oil


official opening of IKL in Bavaria


official opening of the Czech IKL

Technical specifications and interesting facts

At the time of its construction, the crude oil pipeline was the most modern and safest of its kind. The construction solutions, technologies and procedures used corresponded to the demanding requirements of German law e.g. the quality of welds on the pipeline was very carefully controlled and documented, the welds were examined by ultrasound and x-ray. The equipment includes a SCADA control and communications system throughout the entire length of the pipeline, including in the Vohburg tank farm. Despite the technological advances of the crude oil pipeline, MERO invests roughly 50 million CZK per year into ongoing modernization.

capacity of the pipeline 11.5 million tons/year

diameter of the piping 711 mm
thickness of the walls 8.8 to 12.5 mm
flow velocity of oil in the pipeline 0.5 to 1.1 m/s

Safety and the environment

The walls of the pipeline must be cleaned regularly due to deposits of crude oil. Therefore, a special cleaning device called a hedgehog passes through the IKL crude oil pipeline at least once per month. Other devices, called intelligent hedgehogs, inspect the inside of the crude oil pipeline. As they pass through the pipeline they retrieve and store data, making it possible to detect any anomalies to a resolution of 5x5 mm. This gives the operator an overview of the status of the entire pipeline and helps plan targeted repairs. A very accurate system for detecting oil spills is installed throughout the crude oil pipeline and numerous other safety features precluding utilization in case of indications of unauthorized deviation from the norm. In 2014, MERO obtained permission in Germany for the operation of the pipeline without a time limit. One of the demanding requirements for obtaining this permit was to meet the high standards for safety of operation, which ranks the IKL crude oil pipeline among the safest pipelines of all.

In case of failure, a baffle wall allows spilled oil to be captured on the surface of the water. It is controlled via SMS messages.
Each month, the internal condition of the pipes is monitored
on the German side using an EDAG emergency hedgehog. The results
are evaluated by the supervising authority TÜV. Once a year,
so-called DD tests are performed i.e. pressure testing for leaks.
The route of the crude oil pipeline is regularly monitored on foot and by helicopter surveillance flights (in Germany 1 x per week, the Czech Republic 1x per two weeks).
The crude oil pipeline in the rivers Danube and Regen is controlled by an echo sounder once every two years. In the rivers Mže and Střela and in a pond on the border between the Czech Republic and Germany it is checked by divers every year.

Importance of the pipeline

The IKL crude oil pipeline ensures the independence of the Czech Republic from supply via the Druzhba pipeline. It has replaced the Druzhba several times because of various failures due to technical, political or economic reasons (e.g. In 2007, 2008 and 2012).

After a change in the production technology in April 2001, the refinery in Kralupy nad Vltavou only handles oil with a lower sulfur content than Russian oil. The refinery is therefore supplied almost exclusively through the IKL crude oil pipeline, which supplies it with the desired types of oil. Currently, mainly from oil fields in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

In 20 years, the IKL crude oil pipeline has transported 49,153,699 tons of oil to the central tank fam. Fifty million tons were shipped in April this year.

In 20 years the IKL crude oil pipeline has transported 32 kinds of oil from 17 countries.

Vohburg0-0barsoperating pressure
Benešovice0-0barsoperating pressure
Nelahozeves0-0barsoperating pressure