First FSRU Arrives Off Germany

Wednesday, 23 November 2022
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The arrival of the TotalEnergies-controlled Neptune marks the arrival of the first of up to five FSRUs to be deployed in Germany by the end of 2023. The Deutsche Ostsee terminal in Lubmin is expected to start operations in December, which will be made possible by an initial shuttle operation, a developer presentation suggests.

The TotalEnergies-controlled FSRU Neptune (145,000 cu.m.) arrived offshore Sassnitz in Germany on Monday, our vessel data show. Sassnitz lies a short distance north of Lubmin, where Deutsche ReGas and TotalEnergies are constructing the ‘Deutsche Ostsee’ LNG terminal. The appearance of the Neptune thus marks the first arrival of one of up to five FSRUs planned to be deployed in German waters in 2023 to help bridge a gas supply gap created by German government policy to stop imports of Russian pipeline gas. 

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Capacity expansion

In addition to the ‘Deutsche Ostsee’ terminal’s first FSRU, the terminal’s developers have said two more FSRUs could be connected at the same site, but without providing a time scale. The initial FSRU at ‘Deutsche Ostsee’ is scheduled to start operations in December this year. Three other projects are also underway at Wilhelmshaven, Stade, and Brunsbüttel whilst German gas players Uniper and RWE have each contracted two FSRUs to start gas imports by early 2023.

LNG shuttles

Deutsche Ostsee’s rapid three-month implementation period from September to first gas in December is made possible through the deployment of small LNG shuttles a Deutsche ReGas presentation suggests – at least during the initial stages. The Neptune is likely too large to approach the small Lubmin harbour fully laden anyway as the Baltic Sea gets very shallow quite quickly in the Lubmin area. A permanent subsea pipeline is in planning but will only be completed in 2023.

Wilhelmshaven progress

Earlier this month, Niedersachsen Ports confirmed the first jetty at Wilhelmshaven would be ready to receive the Uniper-chartered FSRU Höegh Esperanza in December. The vessel was waiting off Mugardos in Spain, according to our data, presumably for a cool-down cargo following maintenance work at Damen Shipyards in Brest, France. 

Network access

Lubmin is also the place where the controversial but defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline makes landfall. The ‘Deutsche Ostsee’ terminal can thus feed directly into Germany’s gas network, namely the OPAL, NEL and EUGAL pipelines, via a short pipeline link, according to project partner GASCADE. The facility’s annual capacity is 4.5 billion cu.m. 

Embroiled in regulatory issues even prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing EU sanctions that rendered Nord Stream 2 effectively defunct, the Gazprom-led pipeline project suffered from suspected subsea sabotage in September. It is unlikely to be used for commercial operations as originally intended. 

The FSRU terminal at Lubmin is expected to start gas imports at the beginning of December this year, although we highlight there is a risk that regulatory approvals and permits could take longer and push the date of first gas into 2023. Lubmin only has a very small commercial harbour and is a popular holiday destination.

TotalEnergies is also working to install an FSRU at the French port of Le Havre by 4Q 2023, pending regulatory approvals. On-site preparation is scheduled to begin by the end of this year with the TotalEnergies-controlled FSRU Cape Ann likely to arrive in September 2023. The vessel is currently stationed at the Tianjin LNG terminal in China but has been underutilised, according to our data and calculations. 

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