Crude oil is imported into Germany via four transnational crude oil pipelines as well as the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbüttel, Hamburg and Rostock. Pipelines lead from the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbüttel and Rostock to various . The pipeline infrastructure is owned by the petroleum-refining industry; they are operated by joint ventures of several petroleum companies.
Crude oil, intermediate and finished products are stored both underground in caverns as well as above ground in refineries and numerous tank storage facilities that are independent of refineries. Tank storage facilities in Germany have a total capacity of 62 million cubic metres, of which more than 40% is accounted for by caverns (as of 31 December 2015). With regard to surface storage capacities, once again around one-third are operated by companies that are independent from the refineries. A significant portion of total capacities are used by the to stockpile supplies of crude oil and crude oil products as provision for times of crisis.
Petroleum is processed in Germany at 13 refineries with a crude oil refining capacity of 104.4 million tonnes. Germany’s gross refinery output of 106.5 million tonnes is the highest in the EU. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 16,967 people were directly employed in oil processing in 2015. Most of the refineries are owned by foreign multinational energy companies.
In addition to the refining of crude oil, most of which is imported, into petroleum products, finished products are also traded internationally. Almost 37.7 million tonnes were imported into Germany and about 22 million tonnes exported in 2016. A significant share of this international trade - e. g. almost half in the case of diesel imports - was accounted for by energy traders that do not have any refining capacities of their own. Trade also helps smooth out differences in the consumption and production structure for petroleum products. Thus more petrol and petrol components were exported than imported, while the foreign trade balance with so-called middle distillates (diesel, light heating oil and heating oil components) is negative.