Economy Minister Robert Habeck sees the opportunity to “get through the winter well” despite the lack of Russian gas. For this, a lot has to be saved in Germany, and you need “a bit of luck with the weather”. This statement was made by Robert Habeck in Lubmin, Western Pomerania. LNG tankers will soon land liquefied natural gas there to replace Russian pipeline gas. The crisis management of the Minister of Economic Affairs relies on “luck in the weather”, which is just as if the finance minister were relying on luck when playing the lottery to restructure the state budget (Focus; 20.09.22)
Floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Lubmin to go into operation in the second half of 2023 at the earliest
At a distance of 30 to 40 kilometers from Lubmin, a floating terminal chartered by the federal government is to be anchored and take LNG from tankers. However, this still requires the construction of a pipeline through which the gas then flows to Lubmin. From there, the gas can then be distributed via other pipelines in Germany. The capacity of the terminal is expected to be about five billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. The infrastructure required for this is to be completed by the second half of next year.
Winter must be covered by gas storage
Habeck pointed out at the press conference that the filling level of the gas storage facilities would approach the 90 percent mark, despite the lack of Russian deliveries in recent weeks. This gas from the storage facilities should then be available in winter. “But that also means that the storage facilities will be empty again at the end of winter, in this case really empty, because we will use the gas,” he said. In addition, according to Habeck, LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel are looking good for a start at the turn of the year. The floating terminal in Lubmin would therefore be extremely important for filling the storage facilities. In a harsh winter, however, the storage content will last a maximum of six to eight weeks.
The next winter will be even more critical
However, Germany has a total natural gas storage capacity (as of 2020) of 24.6 billion cubic meters. This is almost five times as much as the theoretical capacity of the terminal in Lubmin. Total natural gas consumption in 2021, however, was 90.5 billion cubic meters (Statista), almost four times as high as the available storage capacity. Construction of LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel will begin at the turn of the year at the earliest. This means that no gas will come over these planned terminals so quickly. If Lubmin does not go into operation until the second half of the year, the filling levels of the gas storage facilities will be tight for the next winter. However, the current level of a good 90 percent has been achieved for the most part only by feeding in musical gas. If Habeck relies on luck this winter, he will need much more of it next winter.