European LNG fuel companies successfully test an LNG delivery by rail in Germany to Uniper plant

Tuesday, 14 September 2021
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Three European liquefied natural gas fuel companies have combined to successfully test an LNG delivery by railcar to a German power plant in Bavaria owned by the utility Uniper.

Liqvis GmbH, the LNG subsidiary of Uniper, said that VTG AG successfully completed initial tests involving the transportation by rail of LNG in its specially developed tank wagons.

In addition to VTG, another company involved in the tests was Chart Ferox, which provided technical support for filling the tanks at the facilities of Brunsbüttel Ports GmbH.

Brunsbüttel is where the first LNG import terminal in Germany is under development.

The LNG tanks were then transported by rail to a Uniper power plant located about 800 kilometres away and involving a north-south journey to the city of Ingolstadt in Bavaria.

“Liqvis is using the project to investigate the option of using rail as a safe, cost-effective and ecologically sound way to transport LNG distribution centres,” said Liqvis.

“The ability to move larger volumes in a single batch by rail reduces transport emissions while taking heavy traffic off the roads,” explained Liqvis.

“Carrying hazardous substances by rail is also generally regarded as very safe,” the company added.

Liqvis noted that project partner VTG has been carrying LNG for many years.

“Now, as the first and to date - only company - in the rail freight sector, it has collaborated with Chart Ferox to develop an innovative tank wagon that can bypass shipping routes, road haulage and the pipeline network to transport LNG across Europe,” explained Liqvis.

New rail wagons

The brand-new wagons have thermally insulated tank to keep the gas at a constant temperature during filling and transportation.

“VTG already has the expertise and the logistical concepts that are needed to move LNG around Europe’s rail networks quickly, reliably and in a way that is kind to the environment,” said Heinz Jürgen Hiller, VTG’s Business Development LNG Europe.

“As a kind of ‘pipeline to go’, our LNG tank wagons can permanently supply liquefied natural gas to whole industries with a voracious appetite for energy. We are really pleased about this partnership, which plugs a gap in rail freight,” stated Hiller.

Brunsbüttel Ports, whose facility stands at the mouth of the Elbe River, was chosen as the venue for loading.

The same site had already handled the first-time filling of VTG’s specially developed tank wagon with LNG back in April 2016.

“In recent years, a strategically favorable location at the point where the Elbe flows into the Kiel Canal has combined with close proximity to the port of Hamburg and direct access to the Baltic and Scandinavian markets to establish the Elbe port in Brunsbüttel as one of the leading LNG terminals on Germany’s North Sea coast,” said Frank Schnabel, Managing Director of Brunsbüttel Ports.

Both truck-to-ship and ship-to-ship LNG bunkering have already taken place at in Brunsbüttel, and plans for the LNG import and distribution terminal are proceeding.

LNG could then be redistributed from Brunsbüttel by rail, by LNG bunkering vessels or via the pipeline network.

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