February 17, 2023

Germany’s Brunsbuttel LNG terminal receives its first commercial cargo

Germany’s third LNG import terminal completed its first commercial delivery on Feb. 16. The country is fast-tracking the launch of several floating terminals between this winter and the next to help replace the lost Russian pipeline supplies as fast as possible but these new capacities alone will not be enough.

The 137,540 m3 Ish arrived at the Brunsbuttel-based terminal on Feb. 14 to unload a 126,776 m3 cargo from Abu Dhabi's Das Island before leaving on Feb. 16, Kpler data show. Strong winds in the Brunsbuttel region at the start of the month had delayed the delivery and forced the Ish to wait outside the terminal since late January. This delivery brings Germany closer to commissioning its third terminal after it already launched its first two terminals in January in the ports of Wilhelmshaven and Lubmin.

Brunsbuttel’s regasification capacity will initially be capped at around 3.5 bn m3 a year (2.6 mtpa) until about October when more onshore transmission capacity is scheduled to come online to allow the terminal to send 7.5 bn m3 (5.6 mtpa) of regasified LNG into the grid.

Brunsbuttel is the second of five government-funded floating terminals. The first one started commercial operations in January in Wilhelmshaven.

The 5 bn m3 Wilhelmshaven floating terminal received four cargos since its commissioning cargo in early January and is set to receive another two cargos by early March.

The 180,000 m3 LNG Schneeweisschen is now indicating it will dock in Wilhelmshaven on Friday night to unload a 171,948 m3 cargo from the US Sabine Pass plant, almost two days later than initially planned. The vessel has been waiting outside Wilhelmshaven since Feb. 15 at night, Kpler data show. There was no technical issue at Wilhelmshaven reported on Gas Infrastructure Europe’s REMIT page at the time of writing.

The 174,000 m3 LNG Rosenrot is scheduled to unload a 83,250 m3 cargo from the US Freeport plant at Wilhelmshaven on Mar. 3. Wilhelmshaven’s operator, Uniper, has a long-term offtake agreement for 0.8 mtpa from the 15 mtpa Freeport plant which resumed some of its operations earlier this month after a fire took it offline in June 2022.

Wilhelmshaven has handled about 965,114 m3 of LNG, or the equivalent of 586 m m3 of gas in gaseous form, since its floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) arrived in Germany in mid-December.

Germany launched its second floating terminal in mid-January in the port of Lubmin. Unlike Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuttel, Lubmin is privately developed by Deutsche ReGas. Its initial 5.2 bn m3 capacity will increase to up to 12.2 bn m3 in December when a second FSRU is added to the terminal and to up to 14.2 bn m3 a year from the summer of 2024.

Lubmin's floating storage unit (FSU) has handled about 291,485 m3 of LNG, or 177 m m3 of gas in gaseous form, since it arrived in Germany in December 2022. It was expected to receive its next cargo on 25 Feb. from the 170,000 m3 Minerva Limnos, but the vessel changed its destination and is now heading to France, Kpler data showed at the time of writing.

Overall, since its first FSRU arrived in mid-December, Germany has handled a total of about 1.58 m m3 of LNG, or the equivalent of 960 m m3 of gas in gaseous form. This represents roughly 20% of the Russian supplies that reached Germany via the 55 bn m3 Nord Stream 1 pipeline in January 2022, based on data from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG).

Nord Stream 1 was Germany’s main source of gas supplies prior to the summer of 2022 when flows dropped due to technical issues before the pipeline shut down entirely in late August. A month later, the pipeline was sabotaged.

Under normal circumstances, Nord Stream 1 used to transport roughly 5 bn m3 of gas per month to Germany, which represents approximately 8.2 m m3 of LNG per month. This means that to replace the entire supply it used to receive via Nord Stream 1 each month, Germany would need to import each month roughly five times more LNG than it did in the past two months.

But this is unlikely to happen, even when more FSRUs come online next winter. Together, the three FSRUs in Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuttel, and Lubmin will be able to send an annual 17.7 bn m3 of gas into the German grid once Brunsbuttel operates at full capacity towards the end of the year. This means around 1.5 bn m3 per month.

When the other four planned FSRUs come online at the end of the year, Germany’s LNG import capacity will rise to approximately 39.7 bn m3 a year or 3.3 bn m3 a month, which represents two-thirds of the monthly volumes that used to come through Nord Stream 1.

Besides the seven FSRUs already launched or planned to be launched next winter, Germany will build three land-based terminals to start operations in 2025-2027. However, when the land-based terminals become operational, three of the five government-funded FSRUs are planned to stop operating, which will mean the country’s LNG import capacity will increase to about 60-64 bn m3 a year by 2027. This will mean about 5 bn m3 of monthly import capacity, which will roughly replace the Nord Stream 1 supplies.

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