Mitsui OSK Lines changes LNG FSRU order for cancelled German terminal to super-large carrier

Monday, 19 April 2021
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Mitsui OSK Lines, the Japanese shipping company with an operating fleet of almost 100 liquefied natural gas carriers, has changed an order with a South Korean shipyard because of the cancellation of the LNG import terminal project for the German North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven.

MOL said its order for a floating storage and regasfication unit (FSRU) with South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) had been altered to a conventional LNG carrier described as “super large”.

The Japanese shipping line was forced to act after German utility Uniper called off the Wilhelmshaven import project.

Mol ordered the FSRU from DSME in May 2020 and subsequently signed a charter on the ordered unit with the Wilhelmshaven project. The FSRU had been planned for delivery by the end of June 2023.

Wilhelmshaven is Germany's only deep-sea port in the North Sea and would have been capable of offloading the largest LNG carriers.

The FSRU for the German port was to have had capacity of 263,000 cubic metres capacity with a unique design tailored to large-scale imports. MOL already has an LNG vessel of similar size, the “MOL FSRU Challenger”.

Uniper, based in Düsseldorf, said at the end of 2020 that it was unlikely to pursue the LNG venture because of several factors, including the reluctance of market players to make binding bookings for import capacities.

Uniper has since then switched its focus to other fuels and under the name “Green Wilhelmshaven”, Uniper is working on a feasibility study for the development of a German hydrogen hub.

Wilhelmshaven was one of two LNG import terminals being planned by Germany at the start of 2020. The second is an onshore facility at Brunsbüttel, a port on the Elbe River, south of Hamburg.

However, with the demise of the Uniper-led Wilhelmshaven LNG project another German import development has come to the fore at the port of Stade, also on the Elbe.

Fluxys, the Belgian natural gas grid company and owner of the Zeebrugge LNG import terminal, has agreed to become a partner and operator for the Stade project, known as the Hanseatic Energy Hub.

Fluxys will be an industrial partner in Hanseatic Energy whose other additional investor is the Partners Group, a Swiss-listed private asset management firm.

Under the development plan, the German terminal will be located about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Hamburg and be operational by 2026 with capacity of around 8.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

The terminal replacing Wilhelmshaven will also have facilities for reloading LNG carriers, supplying river barges for bunkering as well as truck and rail-loading capability.

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