19 Dec 2022, 13:36
Benjamin Wehrmann

Speedy LNG terminal opening should set pace for infrastructure modernisation - Scholz

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s first import terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) opened on Saturday, 17 December, and is slated to supply gas to the German grid within days. “This is a very special moment,” chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the opening event in the North Sea town of Wilhelmshaven, which he attended jointly with other leading representatives of his three-party government coalition. Russia’s attack on Ukraine prompted Germany's rapid decision to build LNG terminals “in the shortest time possible” in order to become independent of Russian gas, Scholz said, adding that many observers had doubted the country could adapt fast enough. “But the opposite is true -- we’ve actually made it.” Scholz said many more LNG terminals would be opening soon. Once this has been achieved, “we can proudly say that Germany has safeguarded its energy security”. The chancellor added the terminals's rapid construction time “is now the new German speed with which we’ll advance our infrastructure,” and should serve as an example for how fast important projects can be implemented.

The Wilhelmshaven terminal is serviced by an LNG vessel, a so-called floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which had arrived a few days earlier. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said the Wilhelmshaven terminal had shown that “Germany can be quick if it matters”, but also warned that “we’re not fully done yet”. Two other LNG ports in the towns of Brunsbüttel and Lubmin should still be opened during winter, Habeck said, adding that the government would enforce the expansion of renewables with the same vigour as the ramp-up of its LNG infrastructure. He cautioned that saving “the scarce good gas” remained a priority, regardless of new import infrastructure.

The Wilhelmshaven terminal will have an annual regasification capacity of five billion cubic metres per year, with regular operations planned to commence in January. The FSRU supplying the terminal is one of five similar vessels the German state has chartered to replace gas from Russia, which was Germany's most important supplier before turning off the tap at the beginning of autumn. However, according to a media report released shortly before the terminal’s inauguration, the economy and climate ministry estimates that the country could be headed for a significant LNG import overcapacity if all projects currently envisaged are implemented.

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