Massimo Diminich explains early on that this is a very special moment. “Being here inside is just not normal procedure,” he says. “Quite simply, it’s usually impossible.” The only thing inside the enormous round tank is Diminich himself—where usually thousands of liters of crude oil are stored. It’s dark and quiet, every word echo-ing through the murkiness, the lid hanging barely two meters above the floor. “Actually, the oil presses the lid upward,” he says. “But the tank’s being serviced right now, which is why it’s empty, almost abandoned.” He takes a deep breath. The oil may be absent, but the unpleasant stench remains.
A few moments later, Diminich is climbing back out of the darkness, squinting in the bright sun and looking over to another 31 tanks. He’s the technical manager at Società Italiana per l’Oleodotto Transalpino, the Italian division of the TAL Group. TAL, the abbreviation for the Transalpine Pipeline, is a lifeline for oil supplies in Central Europe. It’s 465 kilometers long and pumps crude from Italy to southern Germany, supplying eight refineries in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany. It also includes two additional branches with a total length of 288 kilo-
meters. Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg receive 100 percent of their oil from it, Austria 90 percent and the Czech Republic 50 percent. “And here in these tanks is where it all begins,” Diminich says.