- The Central Europe Pipeline System (CEPS) is the largest cross-border multi-product petroleum pipeline system in NATO. The CEPS crosses the Host Nations of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg and The Netherlands and is over 5314 km long. With 35 depots, its storage capacity is over 1 million m3.
- The CEPS is part of the NATO Pipeline System (NPS). The NPS consists of ten separate and distinct military storage and distribution systems running through thirteen different Host Nation countries. The NATO Petroleum Committee (NPC) is the senior advisory body in NATO for logistics support to Alliance forces on all matters concerning petroleum, including the NPS, other petroleum installations, and handling equipment. The NPC acts on behalf of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in full consultation with the NATO Military Authorities (NMAs), NATO Agencies, other senior NATO committees and other military and civil bodies to fulfill NATO's petroleum requirements in peace, crisis, and conflict, including expeditionary operations.
- The largest volume of military transport by the CEPS is provided to the United States, and in particular to the Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Force Bases in Germany. The CEPS also delivers significant amounts of fuel to civilian airports, and is the main supplier of fuel to major airports including Amsterdam, Findel, Frankfurt, Köln-Bonn, Zaventem and Zürich. In fact, the CEPS delivers over 50% of jet fuel volumes for these airports and up to 90-100% of fuel for some of them. It is important to note that these strategic energy security deliveries are made while still guaranteeing the military capability (military priority clause).
The Central Europe Pipeline System (CEPS) can be considered as the distant heir of PLUTO (Pipeline Under The Ocean), a single-product pipeline lying on the seabed, constructed by the Western Allies during the Normandy landing. Ninety days after the 6th June 1944, 400,000 vehicles had been supplied with fuel and 700,000 at the end of the campaign. Thus, the use of pipelines for support of military operations was convincingly demonstrated.
The CEPS was conceived for the transport, storage and distribution of fuel to supply the airbases of the Alliance in Central Europe. Its construction started at the beginning of the 1950s. Progressive expansion resulted in lines stretching far into Germany to serve the Allied Forces. Since the 1960s, the transport, storage and delivery capability of the System has also been offered to non-military clients. Today, in the area covered by the CEPS, the majority of the large suppliers and consumers (both military and civil) of petroleum products are physically connected to it.
In 1989, the end of the Cold War led NATO to begin restructuring the System. Installations no longer used are deactivated while transport capacity is being enhanced. Since that time, the CEPS has been continuously rationalized and modernized to provide cost-effective, first-class logistics support to military and non-military customers.