First tanker with liquefied natural gas in Wilhelmshaven

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The tanker Maria Energy (rear ship) loaded with liquefied natural gas is moored at the floating terminal, the special ship Höegh Esperanza.  Photo: Sina Schuldt/dpa

The tanker “Maria Energy” (rear ship) loaded with liquefied natural gas is moored at the floating terminal, the special ship “Höegh Esperanza”. Photo: Sina Schuldt/dpa

Less than a month after the new liquefied natural gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven went into operation, a tanker has reached the facility for the first time. This is a premiere for Wilhelmshaven. Criticism comes from environmentalists.

Wilhelmshaven – For the first time since the opening of the terminal in Wilhelmshaven, a tanker with a full load of liquefied natural gas (LNG) arrived there on Tuesday. This was announced by the operator Uniper in the morning. The tanker “Maria Energy” was escorted to the terminal by police ships the last few meters.

According to Uniper, the “Maria Energy” is loaded with around 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG). That is enough to supply around 50,000 German households with energy for a year. The ship was loaded with the LNG on December 19 in Cameron, Louisiana.

The first German terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Wilhelmshaven was opened in mid-December after almost ten months of planning and construction. Test operations began a few days later. The floating terminal off the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony is intended to help close the gap in Germany’s gas supply caused by the lack of deliveries from Russia. According to Uniper, the special ship can bring around five billion cubic meters of natural gas to Germany every year.

Special ship converts liquid natural gas into gaseous state

The heart of the terminal is the almost 300 meter long special ship “Höegh Esperanza”, which is to convert the liquefied natural gas delivered by tankers into the gaseous state and feed it into the German gas network. It can process up to five billion cubic meters of natural gas in gaseous form. When it arrived in December, the special ship already had a load of LNG on board and fed it into the German grid. According to Uniper, the ship that arrived in Wilhelmshaven on Tuesday is the first pure tanker.

The injection of liquefied natural gas in Wilhelmshaven is officially still in test operation until around mid-February. A Uniper spokesman explained that more attention is being paid to whether everything is working as intended. This has no effect on the general workflow. The next tanker is expected in Wilhelmshaven in about a week.

In addition to Wilhelmshaven, LNG terminals are to be opened in Stade, Lubmin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) and Brunsbüttel (Schleswig-Holstein) in the coming months.

Protest by environmentalists

About 45 environmentalists protested against the LNG tanker in the evening. They fear damage to the Wadden Sea from terminal operations. Stefanie Eilers from Nabu criticized the introduction of chlorine and bromine into the sea. The substances are added when cleaning pipes. Eilers called for cleaning to be switched to ultrasound. There are stricter limits for the ship’s ballast and bilge water than for the seawater used in regasification, she said.

Opponents also criticize the fact that the gas from the USA was obtained using the controversial fracking method. “The fact that Germany is buying fracking gas directly from the USA for the first time today is no reason to be happy, but a historic blow for climate protection and nature conservation,” said the German Environmental Aid.

Fracking uses pressure and fluids to extract gas or oil from rock strata, which can pose environmental hazards. That is forbidden in Germany.

Germany needs gas from the USA and other regions of the world, said Lower Saxony’s Economics Minister Olaf Lies (SPD). “And so it is also true that this gas could also have been mined as shale gas.” He called the arrival of the first tanker “further proof of the reliability of the project to secure Germany’s gas supply”.

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