03 Jan 2023, 13:28
Julian Wettengel

First U.S. LNG shipment arrives in German port


Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s first full cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) reached the import terminal in Wilhelmshaven on 3 January, energy company Uniper said. The ship Maria Energy was loaded with approximately 170,000 cubic metres of LNG at the Calcasieu Pass export facility of LNG supplier Venture Global in the U.S. state of Louisiana – enough to supply around 50,000 German households with energy for one year, Uniper said. The LNG cargo forms part of the commissioning process at the Wilhelmshaven terminal. Commercial operations there are expected to start in mid-January 2023. The terminal was opened after a record fast construction on 17 December, with chancellor Olaf Scholz and several ministers attending the ceremony.

The war in Ukraine pushed Germany to diversify its gas supply away from Russian deliveries and set up its own LNG import infrastructure. Until now, the country received natural gas via pipelines. In recent years, the U.S. has aggressively promoted LNG to its European partners. It is being sold both as a supply that would help buyers diversify away from Russian gas and as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing coal. However, high emissions along the entire value chain of U.S. gas deliveries challenge this sales pitch. High energy needs for production, liquefaction and transport as well as methane emissions and flaring can reach levels that make burning gas dirtier than burning coal. However, a glaring lack of monitoring and measuring means that the actual climate footprint of LNG shipments from the U.S. and elsewhere remains unclear.

Sascha Müller-Kraenner, managing director of the NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) called the delivery to Wilhelmshaven “a historic low blow for climate and nature protection.” While unconventional fracking is forbidden in Germany, “by importing the gas, we nevertheless accept that people in the U.S. will have to bear consequences, such as earthquakes, contaminated groundwater and increased cancer rates,” he said. Müller-Kraenner called on the government and industry not to create “massive overcapacities” of LNG infrastructure and first answer basic questions, such as how much demand there is and where the gas should come from.

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