Germany plans major LNG infrastructure projects

Germany’s government is investing heavily in the development of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) import infrastructure to ensure a sufficient supply of natural gas in case of accidents or sabotage to existing infrastructure, according to a report by the country’s economy ministry. The report states that the overcapacity is necessary to prepare for supply failures due to accidents, sabotage or other external events, and to supply EU neighbours. The report comes as part of the government’s efforts to diversify its gas supply away from Russian deliveries, which have been halted since the war in Ukraine began.

The report, which was requested by the budget committee of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, outlines plans for a safety buffer of about 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year LNG import capacity from 2027. The safety buffer is intended to hedge against the loss of Norwegian imports, Germany’s most important supplier since Russian deliveries were halted, and to secure the supply for neighbouring European countries. The report also assumes additional supply needs from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Ukraine and Moldova.

The government aims to make Germany’s energy infrastructure more robust and resilient, with European solidarity in mind, said economy minister Robert Habeck. “Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made us realise how dangerous unilateral dependencies are and that they cost us. We would be fools not to learn from this,” he added. The government plans to make Germany “more robust” through renewables expansion and efficiency, as well as the development of the LNG import infrastructure.

Critics have said that the LNG plans are oversized, particularly in light of the country’s goal to become climate neutral in about 20 years, which means fossil gas consumption has to fall significantly. Environmental NGO DUH criticised the plans, calling them unnecessary for supply security and a threat to climate targets. The government has said it does not see a lock-in effect for higher CO2 emissions with the build-up of LNG infrastructure and will ensure that the fixed onshore terminals will be able to import green hydrogen and its derivatives in the future.

Germany has a well-developed natural gas pipeline grid and is connected to terminals in neighbouring countries, but until recently did not have its own port to receive LNG directly. The government is investing in permanent land-based import terminals and leasing floating units in the short term, with the first of which was inaugurated in December 2022.

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