Germany Cannot be Relaxed about Baltic LNG Capacity, Senior Official Says

Illustration only - Credit: Karel/AdobeStock
Illustration only - Credit: Karel/AdobeStock

Germany cannot be relaxed about the need for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the Baltic Sea, a high-ranking economy ministry official said on Monday, a week after plans emerged to scale down the region's Mukran project after local resistance. 

"We should not be relaxed about supply security in the next winter," said Stefan Wenzel, a parliamentary state secretary in the ministry led by Robert Habeck of the Green Party. 

"We cannot afford to be unprotected and we also have to think of supplying eastern European gas importers that currently still receive 20 to 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian pipeline gas," Wenzel said via video link at a conference ahead of the opening of the three-day E-World energy fair in Essen this week. 

Germany has so far successfully managed Russian moves to end all gas supplies to Europe, benefiting from warm temperatures, lower demand and the arrival of alternative supplies. 

Three floating LNG terminals have entered operation in the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuettel, and Lubmin on the Baltic Sea coast, which is not far away from Mukran, a port on the nearby Ruegen island. 

A source last week said that a scaled-back version of Mukran would be included in the LNG Acceleration Act. Wilhelmshaven, Stade and Mukran are due to add more ships for the 2023/24 winter. 

Wenzel said that the plans for LNG ports were not oversized, given there were cybersecurity risks. 

He also referred to shaky Ukraine power networks that needed boosting last winter and the unexplained explosions of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea last summer, both of which demonstrate the vulnerability of energy infrastructure. Germany energy regulator Klaus Mueller, who was attending the conference in person, backed Wenzel's comments.

The floating LNG terminals in operation to date only meet 7% of total German gas import needs, he said. 

(Reuters - Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Conor Humphries)

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