As the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to expose fragilities in Europe’s natural gas supply chain, countries are looking to become more self-reliant by developing their own liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure.

Energy company Uniper is looking to advance Germany’s gas independence by developing the €65m Wilhelmshaven LNG terminal. Located at the country’s deepest port, Wilhelmshaven is home to one of four planned German LNG receiving projects, two of which are set to begin operations in late 2022/early 2023. 

Announced yesterday, construction of the project was brought forward to 4th July, 2022, following the granting of approval by the State Trade Supervisory Authority Oldenburg. 

On track for commissioning in the coming winter, the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU)-based terminal will handle 7.5bn m2 (metres squared) of natural gas per year, around 8.5% of Germany’s current gas demand. 

Having been a stable customer of Russian gas over the past ten years, the country imported about 37% - or 31.4m m2- of its natural gas from Russia in 2012 and 36% - or 48.1m m2 in 2021. 

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Germany was the only major EU country that did not have its own infrastructure for receiving tankers with LNG and subsequent regasification. 

Read more: Europe’s unshackling from Russian gas

“We need a replacement for Russian gas as quickly as possible, and we in the north are prepared to take responsibility for this,” said Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s Minister for the Environment, Energy, Building and Climate Protection. 

“Every cubic metre we save will help us get through the next winter, and every cubic metre we import to Germany via alternative routes in the future will help us free ourselves more quickly from Russia’s grip.” 

According to Lies, the regional government is planning, approving, and building the Wilhelmshaven terminal at eight times the normal speed. 

To be completed by September, the application for an early start was submitted by Uniper under the German Federal Immission Control Act (BlmSchG) at the beginning of June and extends to all parts of the land and seaward infrastructure. 

It also grants permission for a 30km long high-pressure gas pipeline between the FSRU and the transfer point into the natural gas pipeline network of Open Grid Europe (OGE). 

Commenting on the project, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, CEO, Uniper, said, “The rapid approval for the early start of construction shows the importance of the LNG terminal in Wilhelmshave for the country’s security of supply.”

In addition to the Wilhelmshaven project, Germany is also developing LNG receiving facilities at Brunsbuttel, Stade, and possibly Hamburg.

Read more: Germany reduces reliance on Russian gas with new LNG terminal