Last weld completed. All pipes are in the ground. And the first German floating terminal for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) has officially been commissioned for service in the coastal city of Wilhelmshaven along the North Sea shore.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Niedersachsen's Prime Minister Stephan Weil, German Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck, and the Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner attended the opening ceremony of the facilities. The project was implemented by the three companies Niedersachsen Ports, OGE, and Uniper.
Even before Christmas, LNG will be re-gasified and conveyed via the newly created Wilhelmshavener Anbindungsleitung (Wilhelmshaven Connector Pipeline/WAL) into the German long-distance gas grid. To make this happen, the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), in the form of Norwegian company Höegh LNG's vessel “Höegh Esperanza”, arrived two days earlier at the Umschlaganlage Vosslapper Groden (Cargo Handling Facility Vosslapper Groden/UVG).
The WAL pipeline will be just under 30 km long, have a diameter of about one metre (DN 1000) and will provide an initial annual capacity of 10 billion cubic metres. The end point will be the Norddeutsche Erdgas-Transversale (NETRA) pipeline near the Etzel gas storage facility. The NETRA tie-in will allow the gas to be shipped from the North Sea coast to the south and east of the country to replace Russian gas in the future.
The WAL is seen as the first step towards a further capacity increase in the region. Apart from this project, there are further plans to invest in the region's gas infrastructure. Additional new build and expansion projects will enable the capacities created for onward transportation of gas from Wilhelmshaven to be expanded to as much as 28 billion cubic metres annually over the next few years.
The completion of this challenging multi-faceted project within the course of 2022 has been a remarkable achievement, and one only made possible through the close collaboration between politics, regulatory authorities, and the private sector. The German government has set a new course for energy supply and bolstered energy security during a period of unprecedented volatility in the energy supply markets.