As the Russia-Ukraine war continues to dominate headlines, Germany is making moves to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas by employing floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) from energy company Uniper and Norwegian vessel operator Hoegh LNG.

According to foreign trade statistics office BAFA, Germany imported 142bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Russia in 2021. 

With Russian supplied gas accounting for a third of its total gas supply, Germany is highly reliant upon the fuel for both electricity generation and household heating. 

A deal between the German government and energy company Uniper saw the partners sign a letter of intent (LOI) for the chartering of two (FSRUs) at the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven. 

A separate set of two 10-year deals were also signed with Hoegh LNG and are scheduled to be completed by September/October, with FSRU operations expected to begin at the end of this year. 

Announced at a press conference yesterday (5th May), Federal Minister Robert Habeck and the Lower Saxony Ministers Olaf Lies and Bernd Althusmann revealed that the development will lay the foundation for Germany’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, for which Uniper – as builder and operator – will invest around  €65m. 

Phase 1 of the project – set for completion in winter 2022/2023 – aims to enable the regasification of LNG at an FSRU that can be connected to the existing ‘Umschlagsanlage Voslapper Groden’ (UVG) sea bridge before being converted back into gas and fed into Germany’s natural gas pipeline. 

Connection to the pipeline 28km away is being handled by Open Grod Europe GmbH (OGE) and – with a capacity of up to 7.5bcm per year - the project will see Wilhelmshaven landing around 8.5% of Germany’s natural gas requirements. 

Commenting on German’s divergence from Russian gas, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, CEO, Uniper, said, “Russia’s war against Ukraine has turned the world we live in upside down – this is especially true for the energy industry.” 

“With our LNG terminal, we are taking an important step – in close cooperation with the German government – towards the desired energy independence.” 

A second phase of the project aims to provide unloading and handling facilities for green gases such as ammonia that will be transported away either by rail or converted back into hydrogen on site, allowing for Germany to advance its green energy transition.

“In the medium and long term, we are developing Wilhelmshaven into the energy hub of the future, with a focus on hydrogen and green gases,” added Maubach.