After US pressure, Berlin mulls natural gas project

Germany's government said Wednesday it was looking at backing a liquefied natural gas terminal, the statement coming as President Donald Trump pushes Berlin to buy American instead of Russian gas.

After US pressure, Berlin mulls natural gas project
The LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) freighter Arctic Voyager is located in Rotterdam port. Several coastal locations in northern Germany are currently planning the first German LNG terminal. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said that “private investors are now studying the construction of an LNG terminal at various potential sites … and the government is studying options for funding under existing federal programmes”.

Seibert was responding to a Wall Street Journal article that said Germany, under pressure from Trump, had decided to build one or two LNG terminals in the country's north.

The terminals would be needed to unload and store LNG from American tankers and convert it back into gas.

According to the US daily, Merkel wants to help finance a 500 million euro ($575 million) project, through either subsidies, loans, credit guarantees or loss protection for investors or a mixture of the four.

A German lawmaker of Merkel's CDU party, Oliver Grundmann, said Merkel had told a group of 25 lawmakers on October 11 that Germany would indeed to construct such terminals.

“We are going to build one or two terminals in Germany, the question is simply when and how,” he told AFP.

Trump has put heavy pressure on Europeans, especially Germany, over their energy dependence on Russia, which is the main gas supplier to Germany, followed by Norway and the Netherlands.

The issue has weighed on trans-Atlantic relations at a time Trump has also attacked Germany for its big trade surplus, insufficient military spending, relatively liberal migration policy and trade relations with Iran.

The United States has even warned of possible sanctions against a Germany-Russia submarine gas pipeline project called Nord Stream 2.

Merkel's spokesman insisted that any decision to build an LNG terminal would be made regardless of US pressure but “based on Germany's and Europe's interest in having a diversified, secure, competitive and affordable infrastructure for energy imports”.

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