All information up-to-date: Verifying land rights in favor of ONTRAS


Managing land rights for pipelines and other facilities is an important part of a transmission company’s day-to-day work. A transmission network can only be operated in compliance with regulations if the network operator is able to access the right-of-way of all pipelines at any time, for example for maintenance or repair work. This means that the network operators have to be able to provide proof of their rights to land owners, leaseholders and public authorities.

As land rights are acquired and lost, or ceded to other companies, a thorough checkup on their status as done by ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH (ONTRAS) minimizes the risk of high follow-up costs due to unclear access rights.

The challenge: Check the status of each and every land right in favor of ONTRAS

Important changes in the political and economic landscape, such as the privatization of the company after the German reunification, and several stages of legal unbundling within the company structure, have left ONTRAS with a remarkably diverse basis of land rights as documented in the land registers of the five new lands. Also, public acts such as forced sales, plot realignments or land register format changes can lead to land rights being lost, for example, if rights are not moved to new land register entries. In order to check up on land right status, ONTRAS has decided to work with GEOMAGIC GmbH and GDMcom Gesellschaft für Dokumentation und Telekommunikation mbH (GDMcom) as subject-matter experts, as well as with other external service providers. The project’s goal is to get definitive data on what easements exist for what parcels and what network facilities. The status check is traceable and documented for each parcel in the land rights management software LaRA as used by ONTRAS.

The solution: Comparing company data with public cadastral and land register data

1: Unification and synchronization of data from different source systems

The land rights status checkup started with data from the land of Thüringen. Thüringen represents the smallest chunk of data in terms of kilometers of pipeline, and this land also has completed the transition to the new German digital format for cadastral data, ALKIS. The pilot phase for Thüringen was completed successfully in the second quarter of 2015. Geometry overlay was used to determine which parcels are affected by ONTRAS facilities. If the overlay indicated that a new parcel was affected, a relationship between network asset and the parcel was created automatically.

2: Land rights check: Fast and easy data gathering and editing

ONTRAS now had unified network asset data and cadastral data at their disposal. This, however, did not yet mean that the data was consistent with what was listed in official land registers.

External service providers were contracted to gather land register information and correct the electronic land register data at ONTRAS. GEOMAGIC developed a specialized data input form in LaRA to facilitate the data checking and data entry procedure. As lots of different users worked with this form, it had to be as clear, simple and easy-to-use as possible. By providing this input form, GEOMAGIC helped in completing the data checks in a timely manner. The LaRA software also comes with an intelligent user management system that allows for user permissions based on geographically defined cadastral areas. In this way, ONTRAS could closely control which external user could access which data.

3: Straightforward communication channels

If a user on the data gathering staff found a land register entry that was not yet listed in LaRA, they could enter it themselves as a temporary item. The ONTRAS staff automatically received a reminder notification and could check and confirm the data item without having to enter it again. LaRA reminders were also used for communication between ONTRAS and external staff if there were any questions or data irregularities. The entire body of ONTRAS land rights data, covering about 160 000 parcels, is scheduled to be checked starting at the end of the year 2015.

Results of the land rights check-up procedure

  • For ONTRAS: up-to-date information on parcels with encumbrances listed in the land register
  • For third parties: a tried-and-tested way to check land rights data that can be used by other German network operators from all federal lands
  • Creates a basis for further land rights management activities, for example for re-acquiring easements