Germany opens floating gasoline terminal at North Sea port

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Germany has opened its floating liquefied pure gasoline terminal within the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven, marking a vital milestone in its quest for vitality independence from Russia.

Olaf Scholz, chancellor, inaugurated the Høegh Esperanza floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), one among 5 that the German authorities has contracted to fill the vitality hole that shaped after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“It is a crucial contribution to our safety . . . and a superb day for Germany,” Scholz mentioned in Wilhelmshaven.

The Esperanza, a specialised ship the size of practically three soccer fields, is carrying 170mn cubic meters of LNG, a lot of it initially from the US — sufficient to produce 50,000 households with gasoline for a yr. Over the approaching weeks it will likely be reconverted to gasoline and fed into Germany’s onshore pipeline community.

Moscow’s resolution to drastically scale back gasoline exports to Germany throughout the summer time plunged Europe’s largest economic system into its worst vitality disaster because the second world warfare. Earlier than the invasion of Ukraine, Russia accounted for greater than half of Germany’s gasoline imports.

Berlin’s efforts to discover a substitute had been impeded by its full lack of LNG import infrastructure and its close to complete reliance on pipelines comparable to Nord Stream 1 that introduced gasoline instantly from Russia. For the reason that begin of the yr Scholz’s authorities has expended big effort — and spent billions of taxpayer euros — on rectifying that.

It contracted 5 FSRUs, every with a capability of 5bn cubic meters a yr of gasoline. It additionally pushed by means of the development of latest everlasting LNG import terminals, one among which will likely be inbuilt Wilhelmshaven.

“Russia’s president Putin thought he might blackmail us by switching off the gasoline provide,” Scholz mentioned. “He was incorrect.”

The chancellor added that Germany would quickly have an LNG import capability of 30 bcm/y on its northern coasts. “That’s equal to greater than half of the complete quantity of pipeline gasoline that flowed to Germany from Russia final yr,” he mentioned.

The infrastructure for the Wilhelmshaven FSRU was inbuilt 10 months — a file for a rustic the place huge vitality initiatives are likely to take years to finish.

“After we mentioned such a terminal needs to be inbuilt Wilhelmshaven this yr, individuals mentioned that’ll by no means be doable, that’ll by no means succeed,” Scholz mentioned. “And the other is true.”

“That’s now the brand new tempo with which Germany is driving infrastructure initiatives, and it needs to be a mannequin — not only for this facility, however for a lot of others, too,” he mentioned.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the opening of the Høegh Esperanza floating gasoline facility. The infrastructure took simply 10 months to finish © AFP through Getty Photographs

The Esperanza will likely be supplemented by a second FSRU, the Høegh Gannet, which is able to go into operation within the close by port of Brunsbüttel in January. A 3rd, non-public, FSRU — the Neptune — will likely be inaugurated in Lubmin on the Baltic Coastline later this month.

“It is a milestone for Germany turning into vitality unbiased,” Erik Nyheim, chief government of Höegh LNG, which owns the Esperanza, Gannet and Neptune, instructed the Monetary Occasions.

Nyheim mentioned the Höegh Esperanza, Gannet and Neptune would have a mixed regasification capability of 17.5bn cubic meters a yr, representing “a major contribution” to Germany’s vitality provide. It’s a couple of third of the amount of gasoline — 50 bcm — that the nation imported from Russia final yr.

Nyheim mentioned that Höegh can have 5 FSRUs deployed in Europe by subsequent yr — half of its fleet — because the continent ramps up its LNG import capability.

Local weather activists have mentioned the investments in new LNG infrastructure don’t make sense when the EU is searching for to go carbon impartial by 2050 and scale back its emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 in contrast with 1990 ranges.

“We’re threatened with huge overcapacity and lock-in results — though gasoline consumption in Germany has to fall dramatically within the coming years,” mentioned Sascha Müller-Kraenner, head of German Environmental Assist.

Nyheim mentioned with Russian provides dropping to close zero, there was little different to the brand new import terminals.

“Final yr, Europe imported 150bn cubic meters of gasoline from Russia,” he mentioned. “That now must be changed by LNG.”

Olaf Lies, economic system minister for Decrease Saxony, the state during which Wilhelmshaven is situated, mentioned concern about overcapacity was misplaced. “The fear isn’t this winter,” he mentioned. “We’ve got to maintain any eye on the winter of 2023-4, which we gained’t go into with the well-filled storage that now we have this yr.”

“That’s why Germany wants the terminals.”

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