At the end of a pier swept by the winds of the North Sea is Germany’s most strategic construction site: the construction of the first liquefied gas terminal in the country.
Installed near the port of Wilhelmshaven, on the North Sea coast, this platform will be able to supply, from this winter, the equivalent of 20% of what Russian gas imports to Germany represented until recently. They were stopped in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Five projects were launched in total this year by the government at great expense to compensate for the end of Gazprom’s deliveries.
From 2023, the assembly must deliver 25 billion cubic meters per yearhalf the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline.
Regasify natural gas
At the Wilhelmshaven construction site, workers dressed in fluorescent yellow work in the drizzle on the surface of a half-finished concrete platform emerging from the water.
On land, a ballet of trucks brings pieces of gray pipe to the site, transported by cranes, before being connected to each other, to connect the terminal to the existing network, over 28 kilometers.
LNG terminals make it possible to regasify natural gas imported by sea, which has previously been liquefied to be more transportable.
They consist of an offshore platform connected by pipes to the onshore gas network. A boat called FSRU is moored there, rented for several years. It stores and regasifies liquid gas.
Ensuring energy security
Unlike other European countries, Germany did not previously have any such equipment, either at sea or on land, preferring to benefit from the inexpensive resource coming from Russian pipelines.
But after the invasion of Ukraine, Russia first drastically reduced its deliveries, which previously represented 55% of German imports, before stopping them at the beginning of September.
To ensure its energy security and save its gas-intensive industry, Berlin is investing heavily in LNG.
The government has already concluded agreements with Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates or Qatar to import more liquefied gas.
Berlin has also released three billion euros to rent FSRU ships to equip its terminals.
The country passed a law in the spring that dramatically sped up procedures for opening terminals quickly.
In Wilhelmshaven, the construction site is progressing quickly. We can see these networks installed in the middle of fields or pastures on which dairy cows still graze.
The terminal should therefore be finished “as of this winter”, assures AFP Holger Kreetz, operational manager of the German energy group Uniper, which manages the project.
An extraordinary speed, a sign that the government considers this subject as a priority: “normally, we carry out such a project in 5, 6 years”, adds Mr. Kreetz.