Germany plans more LNG capacity as Russian gas dwindles

Germany will charter a fifth floating liquefied natural gas terminal as it looks to wean itself off Russian pipeline imports and secure supplies for future winters, the economy ministry said Thursday.

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck speaks at a press conference.
Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck speaks at a press conference. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The terminal for the import of LNG will be installed at the port of Wilhelmshaven on Germany’s northwest coast and is planned to come online at the end of 2023.

Germany has been scrambling to find new sources of gas as deliveries from Russia have dwindled in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The drying up of supplies via pipelines connecting Russia with Germany has sent prices for fuel and electricity soaring.

In response, the German government has fired up mothballed coal power plants, while evaluating a controversial extension to the lifetime of its
nuclear power plants beyond the end of the year.

It has also launched an energy-saving drive ahead of winter.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s energy saving rules

“It is astonishing that we have reduced the dependence on Russian gas so quickly with the development of new infrastructure, compared to the decades it took to become dependent on Russia,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said at a press conference.

For future winters, the newly chartered floating terminal should fill the gap left by Russian gas imports, which covered 55 percent of Germany’s demand before the war.

The new unit, to be operated by a consortium including energy companies EON and Engie, is set to have a capacity of “at least five billion cubic meters per year”, according to the ministry.

The five government-chartered terminals have a total capacity of 25 billion cubic meters per year, with the first set to start pumping gas around the end of this year.

A further private project in Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic coast is set to have a capacity of 4.5 billion cubic meters per year, while another private
terminal in Rostock is also in the works.

Together, the private and public projects will cover “about a third” of Germany’s total gas demand, according to the ministry.

In time, the government plans to convert the fifth terminal location in Wilhelmshaven to the importation of hydrogen — “provisionally from 2025”.

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Germany and Denmark investigate Russian pipeline pressure drop

Germany said Monday it was investigating an unexplained pressure drop in the inactive Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, which was blocked by Berlin in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.

Germany and Denmark investigate Russian pipeline pressure drop

The operator said it was “relatively likely that there’s a leak” in the underwater pipeline, which runs beneath the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Authorities had spotted a “large bubble field near Bornholm”, a Danish island in the Baltic, Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek told AFP.

“The pipeline was never in use, just prepared for technical operation, and therefore filled with gas,” he said.

There was, however, “no clarity” over the cause of the pressure drop in the underwater link, or whether the issue was related to a section of the pipe in “German sovereign waters”, a spokeswoman for the German economy ministry said.

Officials were working to “clarify the situation,” the spokeswoman said, adding that Danish authorities had been alerted to the issue.

The pipeline, which runs parallel to Nord Stream 1 and was intended to roughly double the capacity for undersea gas imports from Russia, was blocked by Berlin in the days before the invasion of Ukraine. Germany, which was highly dependent on imports of fossil fuels from Russia to meet its energy needs, has since come under acute stress as Moscow has dwindled supplies.

Russian energy giant Gazprom progressively reduced the volumes of gas being delivered via the Nord Stream 1 until it shut the pipeline completely at the end of August, blaming Western sanctions for the delay of necessary repairs to the pipeline.

READ ALSO: Germany’s gas storage facilities ‘over 90 percent full’

Germany has rebuffed Gazprom’s technical explanation for the cut, instead accusing Moscow of wielding energy as a weapon amid tensions over the Ukraine war.

Kremlin representatives have previously suggested that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be allowed to go into operation.

It was “technically possible” to continue deliveries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in August.

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who signed off on the first Nord Stream pipeline in his final days in office, has also called on Berlin to reconsider its position on the blocked second link.