CEPS can expeditiously provide military commanders with fuel for aircraft and ground vehicles, whenever and wherever required in the light of the prevailing military situation. To optimize the system, it is also used commercially under strict safeguards such as in supplying jet fuel to several major civil airports. While ensuring the necessary investments, one of the priorities of the CEPS is to offer an optimal service for its military and civil clients under all circumstances.
The CEPS is used by five Host Nations - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands – and one User Nation: the United States.
It is one of the most complex and extensive networks of refined product pipelines in the world. It comes under the authority of the Central Europe Pipeline Management Organization (CEPMO) Board of Directors (BOD), which is at the head of the Central Europe Pipeline Management Organization (CEPMO). It is managed, day-by-day, by the Central Europe Pipeline Management Agency (CEPMA), which is the executive arm of CEPMO.
The CEPS is a state-of-the-art, high-pressure pipeline network that transports different products including jet fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel and naphtha.
The pipeline network
The CEPS comprises some 5 100 km of pipeline with diameters ranging from 6 to 12 inches. This network of pipelines links 34 NATO depots (offering a total storage capacity of 1.1 million m3), military and civil airfields, refineries, civil depots and sea ports situated in the Host Nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands).
Use of the CEPS in time of conflict
At the beginning of a military operation, military demands increase exponentially, which means that the system is used to maximum capacity. The reserve stocks in the CEPS and the connection to European refineries, civil depots and maritime entry points provide the flexibility in the System to meet surges in requirements. Non-connected installations can be supplied by train or trucks loaded in one of the numerous truck or train-loading stations belonging to the system.
Civilian use of CEPS
Operating costs for the CEPS are shared by the Host and User Nations. In order to keep operational costs as low as possible and to increase the use of the pipeline, the system is also extensively used for the transport and storage of products for non-military clients. However, under all circumstances, the military priority clause included in the commercial contracts guarantees the primacy of supply to military forces.
The delivery of jet-fuel to major civil airports such as Frankfurt, Schiphol, Brussels, Luxembourg and Zurich represents an important part of the volume pumped. With more than 13 million m³ delivered in 2008, the revenues from non-military activities considerably reduced the cost to the six CEPS countries.
CEPS is managed by the Central Europe Pipeline Management Organization or CEPMO.
CEPMO is one of the NATO Production, Logistics or Service Organizations (NPLSO), which are subsidiary bodies that are granted organizational, administrative and financial independence by the North Atlantic Council. Their tasks are to establish the collective requirements of participating countries in relevant fields, in accordance with their individual Charters. All of these entities operate under the authority of the North Atlantic Council.
The 1997 CEPMO Charter established CEPMO as it stands today.
CEPMO is composed of the CEPMO Board of Directors, which establishes general policy, objectives and missions, and approves financial resources for the CEPS; and the Central Europe Pipeline Management Agency (CEPMA), which is the executive arm of CEPMO in the sense that it manages the day-to-day operations of the CEPS. As such, CEPMO does not have a physical location or staff. It is constituted by the CEPMO BoD and CEPMA.
During the Second World War, the need for the safe provision of fuel to military forces in combat was key to success. This accounts for the construction of PLUTO (Pipeline Under The Ocean) by the Allies between England and France. Troops that had landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day were guaranteed fuel supplies via PLUTO as they progressed across the continent.
The construction of the CEPS
The CEPS was created to distribute fuels to NATO forces in the Central Region of Europe.
In 1958, the NATO Common Infrastructure Programme funded the construction of the CEPS. It was a joint NATO-national project that had the characteristic of coordinating and interconnecting national facilities. Before the creation of the CEPS, individual countries already possessed some pipelines, storage depots, ports, loading stations, airfield connections, pumping facilities, and highly trained personnel. Within the CEPS, these systems were interconnected, extended and centrally managed.
The end of the Cold War
With the end of the Cold War, the CEPMO has carried out two major restructuring programmes to adapt CEPS to the new strategic situation. A considerable number of installations, which had no further military relevance, have been eliminated. This resulted in significant annual cost savings.
Supporting NATO operations
Since 1990, the CEPS has supported a number of large operations within and outside the European theatre. A good example of the absolute necessity of the CEPS was provided during NATO operations in Kosovo in support of the major air campaign. CEPS continues to support operations in a number of different theatres including Afghanistan.