Germany has rented four floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) as it aims to reduce its reliance on piped natural supplies from Russia and ramp up liquefied natural gas (LNG) production.
The country has committed to chartering two FSRUs on through utility Uniper and to two 10-year deals with Norwegian vessel operator Hoegh LNG to be completed by September or October, which will be operated by RWE.
It has chosen the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven as the first handling hub, and will receive seaborne LNG in the winter of 2022/23.
The first of Germany’s FSRUs will have a capacity of 7.5bn cubic metres per year, equivalent to 8.5 per cent of total German gas demand.
The other three will each have at least 5 billion cubic metres of capacity, a joint statement by the Berlin economy ministry and Lower Saxony’s environment ministry said.
The government has earmarked €2.94bn euros for the FSRUs, and plans to pass legislation shortly to give permits for the infrastructure.
Demand for FSRUs has risen sharply as governments across Europe scramble to find quick ways to secure more LNG – with the continent currently depending on top-ups from the US to meet rebounding consumption demand.
The floating units are a key part of Germany’s short-term strategy to stave off supply shortages this winter, before it shifts to permanent LNG terminals in the coming years.
Europe’s biggest economy currently relies on piped Russian gas for almost a third of its supplies – and is dependent on Russia for around half its overall imports.
Piped Russian gas flows totalled 142bn cubic metres last year.
Despite dropping its opposition to an EU-wide emargo on Russian oil imports, the government has warned it could take until summer 2024 to end its reliance on Russian gas.
The Economy Ministry last weekend said it wanted four FSRUs to speed the diversification of the country’s energy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters in Wilhelmshaven the terminals were part of the plan “to become independent of blackmail by Russia.”
He said: “A day like this makes me confident that it can work.”