Germany's LNG import terminals tackle challenges

(Reuters) - A German government-backed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project at Mukran on Ruegen island in the Baltic Sea, near existing LNG reception facilities delivering into the mainland port of Lubmin, will be downsized.

The quest for alternative imports intensified as the country sought to end reliance on Russian pipeline gas after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

Apart from gas, industry and the government are anticipating increased use of hydrogen, which when produced using renewable energy can help the transition to a lower carbon economy.

Germany would need to import much of its hydrogen needs and the low density of the gas makes transportation over long distances complicated unless a carrier, such as ammonia is used.

It is unclear whether ammonia, another carrier or just shipping hydrogen in liquid form will win out.

At the same time, the drive to build infrastructure has met local resistance and energy bottlenecks have eased, reducing the urgency of action.

Utility RWE said last month it wanted no operational part in the second state-leased LNG terminal on Ruegen.

Pending the provision of fixed terminals, Germany is using floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) to help replace the relatively cheap piped Russian gas supply on which it previously relied.

Three FSRUs are working at Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuettel and Lubmin after Germany arranged their charter and onshore connections in record time.

Wilhelmshaven, Lubmin and newcomer Stade are due to add more ships for the 2023/24 winter.


Utility Uniper last December launched Germany's first FSRU operations at the deep-water port on the North Sea.

It plans to add a land-based ammonia reception terminal and cracker in the second half of this decade.

Tree Energy Solutions will operate a second FSRU from later in 2023 for five years, and plans, later on, to convert the operations to clean gases.


The FSRU Neptune, privately chartered by Deutsche ReGas, early this year began LNG reception activities at the Baltic Sea port of Lubmin.

The gas is delivered to another storage vessel, the Seapeak Hispania, further away, and shuttled to Lubmin in a set-up taking account of shallow water and aiming to protect local wildlife.

ReGas holds long-term supply deals with French TotalEnergies and trading group MET.


A government source said on May 15 that Mukran is expected to host two state-leased FSRUs of 10 billion cubic metres capacity, to be operated by ReGas. Previously, four FSRUs of 18 bcm had been planned.

Some local residents fear tourism will be disrupted and have launched protests and legal opposition.


The Brunsbuettel FSRU, operated by RWE's trading arm on the North Sea coast, received its first cargo in February and started regasification in March, before becoming operational in mid-April.

It is the forerunner of a land-based LNG facility that could start operations at the end of 2026, when an adjacent ammonia terminal could also start up. State bank KfW, Gasunie and RWE are stakeholders and Shell (SHEL.L) has committed itself to sizeable purchases.


The inland port on the river Elbe in January started work on a landing pier for an FSRU, to be ready in the winter of 2023/24.

Project firm Hanseatic Energy Hub also plans a land-based terminal where it has allocated regasification capacity that could be operational in 2027, including volumes for state-controlled Sefe and utility EnBW.

It has begun sounding out the market to determine whether the longer-term plans should be based largely on ammonia to be reconverted into clean hydrogen.

It identified a construction consortium on April 18.

HEH is backed by gas network company Fluxys, investment firm Partners Group, logistics group Buss and chemicals company Dow.

A final investment decision is expected in mid-2023.

EnBW, which is also a buyer at Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuettel, said it would double annual purchases to 6 billion cubic metres.

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