LNG price drop dampens enthusiasm for import terminals in Germany
Tumbling prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) due to the coronavirus pandemic are worsening conditions for planned gas import terminals in Germany, Klaus Stratmann reports in business daily Handelsblatt . The federal government’s maritime coordinator, Norbert Brackmann, says that companies are still moving forward with their investments, though it is not sure whether they are in "the greatest hurry" given the current market situation. There are no LNG terminals in Germany yet and plans to set up domestic import infrastructure are contentious and have become a heatedly debated topic between the US and Germany. American officials have long been eager for their national producers to export LNG mined with the controversial fracking method to European markets, openly demanding Germany and the EU heed their requests.
In 2018, German economy minister Peter Altmaier said Germany would speed up the process to build its first LNG import terminal as “a gesture to our American friends” after U.S. President Donald Trump criticised Germany for its dependence on Russian gas and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. These plans have proven controversial domestically. Handelsblatt also reports that Germany’s federal government has focused on two projects: one in Brunsbüttel in Schleswig-Holstein, involving Dutch companies Gasunie and Vopak and the Hamburg-based firm Marquard & Bahls, and another in Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony, facilitated by the energy company Uniper, whose enthusiasm for the project is described as "limited."
The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has led to a steep drop in global natural gas prices. According to price comparison website Verivox, wholesale prices for natural gas in Germany fell nearly six percent in the first half of 2020 – the biggest drop since the 2009 financial crisis.