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Germany: Scholz opens country's first LNG terminal

December 17, 2022

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other ministers praised the project as showing the new "speed" of Europe's biggest economy. But the floating terminal's high-profile opening was sharply criticized by environmental groups.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Finance Minister Christian Lindner wear yellow safety jackets while opening Germany's first LNG gas terminal
Scholz (pictured in the middle) was accompanied by other senior Cabinet officials for the opening of the floating LNG terminalImage: Michael Sohn/REUTERS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other senior government officials officially opened the country's first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Saturday.

The opening of the LNG import terminal is a milestone in Germany's plans to find alternate sources of natural gas.

Berlin was forced to quickly shift its heavy reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany cuts the ribbon on first LNG terminal

What did officials say?

Speaking in the northern port city of Wilhelmshaven where the LNG terminal is located, Scholz praised how quickly the facility was built.

The terminal, floating off the North Sea coast, was built in a record time of just under 10 months. The project shows that Germany "is capable of new beginnings and speed," Scholz said at the inauguration ceremony.

The chancellor added that Germany's LNG projects will help make the country "independent from pipelines out of Russia."

Economy Minister Robert Habeck, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Lower Saxony state premier Stephan Weil were also in attendance.

"We are taking a very important step today for energy supply security in Germany," Habeck said. The Green Party politician also emphasized that the government is "pushing renewable energy" sources with the same zeal.

Scholz greenlit the LNG projects on February 27 this year — just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine.

The facility opened off of Wilhelmshaven is slated to feed an estimated 6% of Germany's gas demand into the energy grid each year.

Scholz: LNG terminal "important step for our energy security"

How have climate groups responded?

Environmental groups have sharply criticized Scholz's government for ramping up fossil fuel energy sources in the scramble to fill the energy gaps left by Russiann supplies to Germany being short this winter.

The German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), in particular, said that the same speed with which the LNG terminal was built should also be applied to "the phase-out of fossil fuel energy."

"There is actually nothing to celebrate," BUND regional board member Imke Zwoch told German news agency DPA.

What are Germany's energy plans?

The liquefied natural gas facility that opened on Saturday is the first of five terminals that are due to be opened by the end of next year.

Another LNG terminal is slated for construction in Wilhelmshaven, while there will also be facilities in the northern cities of Brunsbüttel, Stade and Lubmin.

The LNG terminal opened on Saturday includes a specially equipped ship called a floating storage and regasification unit. This vessel docked on Thursday carrying 165,000 cubic meters of LNG.

According to Habeck's Economy Ministry, the LNG terminals will be able to provide a third of Germany's natural gas needs.

Germany's bid to avoid energy shortages also includes reactivating aging oil-and coal-fired power stations as well as extending the life of Germany's remaining three nuclear plants. The latter of which are slated to continue running until mid-April.

How does gas storage work?

rs/jcg (dpa, Reuters)