Wilhelmshaven FSRU

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Wilhelmshaven FSRU Terminal is a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) LNG import terminal in Lower Saxony, Germany. After being cancelled in April 2021, it was later revived and began construction in July 2022.[1][2] The terminal began operating in December 2022.[3]


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Project details

  • Operator: Deutsche Energy Terminal GmbH (DET)[4]
  • Owner: Uniper[5]
  • Parent company: Uniper[5]
  • Vessel: Höegh Esperanza[3]
  • Vessel operator: Deutsche Energy Terminal GmbH (DET)[4]
  • Vessel owner: Höegh LNG[3]
  • Vessel parent company: Morgan Stanley[3][6]
  • Location: Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • Coordinates: 53.516667, 8.133333 (approximate)
  • Capacity: 7.5 bcm/y, 5.5 mpta[7]
  • Status: Operating[3]
  • Type: Import[8]
  • Start year: 2022[9][10]
  • Cost: €400-450 million[9]
  • Financing: €65 million in equity from Uniper[7]

Note: mtpa = million tonnes per year; bcm/y = billion cubic meters per day


In October 2005, E.ON proposed the Wilhelmshaven FSRU Terminal in Lower Saxony, with capacity of 8 mtpa. It would have been Germany's first LNG import gas terminal.[11][12]

E.ON decided against construction of the terminal in 2008 and instead signed an agreement to get gas from a LNG terminal in Rotterdam, the Gate LNG Terminal. Interest in the Wilhelmshaven terminal revived in 2014 due to Russia tensions with Ukraine, to reduce gas imports from Russia, which supplies 40 percent of German gas demand. Critics argued the terminal would require large state subsidies to be built, and that there was enough LNG import capacity in neighboring countries.[13][14]

In December 2018, Uniper entered into an agreement with Japanese shipowner Mitsui O.S.K Lines (MOL) who will own, finance and operate the FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit).[15] In January 2019 ExxonMobil and Uniper reached an agreement to purchase gas from a Wilhelmshaven terminal that would be developed as an FSRU, with a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year (7.3 million tonnes per year).[16] In March 2019, the German news outlet Capital cited a Uniper estimate of the cost of the terminal as 400–450 million euros.[17] According to Uniper's cost estimate, the terminal would cost only 40–45 euros per bcm/year of capacity, which is about half the average cost for floating LNG terminals in 2017, which was 85 euros per bcm/year of capacity (or 129 USD per million tons/year of capacity), according to the International Gas Union.[18]

In November of 2019, German utility Uniper announced that the planned Wilhelmshaven FSRU Terminal was expected to come on stream in the year 2023.[19]

In May 2020, LNG Terminal Wilhelmshaven and MOL signed a contract to build and charter the FSRU. The South Korean company Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering will build the FSRU which will handle incoming LNG tankers. Regasified gas was to be pumped from the FSRU along a short connecting pipeline under the sea to the port facilities and then fed into the German gas transmission network. According to Uniper's press release on the contract signing, "This optimized planning will minimize the environmental impact both on land and on the seabed by a non-disruptive crossing of the natural habitat identified in the environmental studies."[20]

The planned location for the FSRU has proved to be controversial and in July 2020 German media reports suggested that the project promoters may have difficulties to receive the necessary legal clearances because of the project's potential impacts on the Wadden Sea National Park which is surrounded by protected nature reserves.[21] It was also reported that the project promoters have launched a competitive tender to establish the levels of interest from potential customers, and they are also contemplating project finance for the project.[22]

In November 2020 Uniper cancelled its contract with Mitsui O.S.K. to build the terminal, citing insufficient demand for the gas that would be imported.[23] German environmental groups and local initiatives which have protested the project's development welcomed the news. Sascha Müller-Kraenner, director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, said: "This is a good decision for climate protection. Putting hundreds of millions of euros into fossil fuel infrastructure today is not only nonsensical in terms of climate policy, it also makes absolutely no economic sense. It is therefore logical for Uniper to draw a line under these plans. With the move away from the planned FSRU terminal, Uniper now has the opportunity to change course and invest more in renewable energies."[24]

In April 2021, Uniper officially cancelled the project and cited the possibility of using the location as a hydrogen energy hub.[1]

Project revived

In February 2022, as part of a package of measures designed to help reduce Germany's dependence on Russian gas imports, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Bundestag that the federal government had decided to fast-track the construction of the Wilhelmshaven LNG Terminal, as well as the Brunsbüttel LNG Terminal.[8]

Lower Saxony's Energy Minister, Olaf Lies, welcomed Scholz's announcement, noting that Wilhelmshaven would be able to import fossil gas in the short-term, and later be able to switch to importing green, climate-neutral gas. Lies commented: "We as a state will … do everything we can to advance the planning together with the city of Wilhelmshaven and the federal government. We can manage to start landing liquid gas as early as 2024. To do this, we have to take planning shortcuts wherever and whenever possible."[25]

Following Uniper's announcement in early March 2022 that it was pulling out of the Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline, the deputy chairman of the company's supervisory board, Harald Seegatz, confirmed to Reuters that it was pushing forward with the Wilhelmshaven FSRU project. According to Seegatz, the terminal could be available from the 2023/24 winter season if the German government provides sufficient financial support and administrative red tape is reduced.[26] As well as resuming its plans for LNG imports, Uniper said these activities would be "closely linked" to its plans to make Wilhelmshaven a "green energy hub", with imports of green ammonia and hydrogen production to provide more than 10% of German hydrogen demand by 2030.[5]

In May 2022, Germany signed contracts to rent four FSRU vessels provided by shipping companies Hoegh LNG and Dynagas. Two would be operated by utilities RWE and Uniper, one of which was intended for Wilhelmshaven FSRU Terminal (to begin by the end of 2022) and another for Brunsbüttel FSRU Terminal (to start up by early 2023).[10] Other unloading sites that were under consideration included Rostock and Stade. Additionally, an agreement was signed between the federal government and the state of Lower Saxony on the expansion of Wilhelmshaven into a green energy hub for Germany. By 2025, additional unloading and handling facilities for green gases, for example ammonia, are to be implemented at the "Green Wilhelmshaven" site which would host the operation of both the LNG and ammonia terminals.[7]

Construction on the FSRU vessel began on May 4, 2022.[27] On the same day, German environmental and consumer protection association Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) filed an objection to the Lower Saxony State Agency for Water Management, Coastal Defense and Nature Conservation calling for an immediate halt to the construction work. DUH's appeal requested due transparency and upholding of the rule of law. The group expressed concern that construction of the terminal will irreversibly destroy sensitive ecosystems and endanger the habitat of the endangered harbor porpoise in the Jade Estuary and in the Wadden Sea National Park. DUH further complained that the federal government's rush to advance plans for building several LNG terminals along the German coast, justified by the need to cut dependency on Russian gas because of the Ukraine war, had so far not been justified by any official figures and data to prove the necessity of implementing so many new projects.[28]

In July 2022, Uniper said that it expected the terminal to be ready by winter of that year. The official start of construction of the import terminal is July 4 2022.[2]

In December 2022, the Hoegh Esperanza arrived at the site and the terminal began operations.


Anti-LNG protest at the Lower Saxony State Chancellery in Hanover, Germany, September 2020. Photo: Andy Gheorghiu

German activists have been stepping up their opposition to the proposed Wilhelmshaven terminal and another import project in Lower Saxony, the Stade LNG Terminal. In September 2020, protesting the potential importing of fracked U.S. and Canadian gas to the two terminals, 25 demonstrators protested peacefully outside the Lower Saxony State Chancellery building in Hanover under the banner "Clean Gas is a Dirty Lie".

Environmental Impacts

In July 2020, German media reports noted that the project's potential impacts on the Wadden Sea National Park could have challenged its ability to receive necessary government approvals.[21]

In October 2022, German environmental and consumer protection group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) raised the alarm about the huge quantities of chlorine that will be discharged into the North Sea by Wilhelmshaven FSRU. DUH research has found that in 2021 the Höegh Esperanza vessel was turned down by Australian authorities for an operating permit at a proposed LNG project in Victoria because of its significantly higher than standard levels of biocide discharge. Environmental assessment exemptions for Germany’s new LNG projects, carved out by the new federal “LNG Acceleration Act”, are giving Uniper the green light, says DUH, “to use its LNG terminal ship to discharge ten times as much biocide into the North Sea as the Australian authorities previously considered acceptable at a comparable location.”[29] In January 2023, DUH filed a complaint against the operating license of the facility on the grounds of chlorine discharge and risks to German climate targets.[30]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Uniper eyes hydrogen hub in Germany, drops LNG terminal, Independent Commodities Intelligence Service, April 15, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 Staff, LNG Prime (2022-07-04). "Uniper: first German LNG import terminal to be ready this winter". LNG Prime. Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 LNG Prime Staff (2022-12-17). "Germany's first LNG import terminal launched in Wilhelmshaven". LNG Prime. Retrieved 2022-12-19.
  4. 4.0 4.1 LNG Prime Staff (2023-01-17). "German FSRU terminal operator starts operations". LNG Prime. Retrieved 2023-02-02.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Uniper resumes Wilhelmshaven LNG plans as Germany looks to cut Russian gas reliance, LNG Prime, Mar. 8, 2022
  6. Sanja Pekic (2021-03-08). "Höegh LNG to go private with Morgan Stanley deal". Offshore Energy. Retrieved 2022-12-19.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Uniper to build Germany's first LNG terminal – aim is to diversify natural gas supply sources, Uniper press release, May 5, 2022
  8. 8.0 8.1 Stuart Elliott, Germany's Uniper mulls resuming work on Wilhelmshaven LNG import terminal, S&P Global, Feb. 28, 2022
  9. 9.0 9.1 Andy Gheorghiu, LNG terminals for Germany: Part I – Brief history and state of play, Energy Transition, Apr. 19, 2022
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Germany Rents Floating LNG Hubs to Cut Reliance on Russian Gas". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2022-05-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. Wilhelmshaven LNG Terminal, A Barrel Full, accessed April 2017
  12. "E.On Hatches Plan for Germany's First LNG Import Terminal". Energy Intelligence. 2005-10-27. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  13. "The blind love for Wilhelmshaven," Manager Magazine, 3/27/2014
  14. Newspaper: LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven again in planning, Gas-Magazin, October 10, 2015
  15. Uniper SE and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines enter into agreement on FSRU project in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, and one additional LNG transportation agreement, Uniper press release, Dec. 17, 2018
  16. UPDATE 1-ExxonMobil signs preliminary Wilhelmshaven LNG deal -Uniper, Reuters, Jan. 25, 2019
  17. "Gaswirtschaft setzt auf Subventionen für LNG-Terminals". Capital. March 29, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. 2018 World LNG Report International Gas Union, 2018
  19. "Uniper says it sees Wilhelmshaven LNG terminal by 2023", Reuters, November 12, 2019
  20. "Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and LNG Terminal Wilhelmshaven sign a contract to build and charter an LNG terminal ship", Uniper press release, May 26, 2020
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Setback for LNG plans in Wilhelmshaven", Energate Messenger, Jul. 15, 2020
  22. "Project finance under consideration for Wilhelmshaven FSRU", Proximo, Jul. 15, 2020
  23. Stuart Elliott, Uniper to re-evaluate plans for Wilhelmshaven LNG terminal after tepid interest, S&P Global, Nov. 6, 2020
  24. "Success for climate protection: Uniper cancels planned LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven and announces reorientation of the project", Deutsche Umwelthilfe press release, Nov. 6, 2020
  25. Naida Hakirevic Prevljak, Germany to break free from Russian gas with two LNG terminals, Offshore Energy, Feb. 28, 2022
  26. Christoph Steitz, Tom Käckenhoff, Uniper shares reverse gains after planned Russia exit, Nord Stream 2 writedown, Reuters, Mar. 8, 2022
  27. "Habeck at the start of construction in Wilhelmshaven: Liquid gas terminals should make Germany more independent - economy". Archysport. 2022-05-05. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  28. Baustart LNG-Terminal Wilhelmshaven: Deutsche Umwelthilfe legt Widerspruch gegen vorzeitigen Beginn der Arbeiten ein und fordert sofortigen Baustopp, Deutsche Umwelthilfe press release, May 4, 2022
  29. "Deutsche Umwelthilfe schlägt Alarm: Uniper plant mit LNG-Terminal Wilhelmshaven große Mengen umweltschädlicher Biozide ohne Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfung in die Nordsee einzuleiten". Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2022-12-19.
  30. German green group files complaint against new floating LNG terminal. Reuters. January 11, 2023.

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