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Thursday, May 26, 2022

US and EU seal partnership for liquefied gas

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The EU must become less dependent on energy supplies from Russia. This demand was repeated like a mantra at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. EU Council President Charles Michel said: “We need partners to speed up this process.” One of these partners had specifically traveled to Brussels, the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

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Together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Biden announced on Friday that the US and its international partners will supply an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU this year. In the long term, Biden also announced an annual supply volume of 50 billion cubic meters from the US per year by 2030. For comparison: every year about 60 billion cubic meters of gas flows from Russia to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from the Baltic Sea.

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Von der Leyen stressed that moving away from Russian energy supplies is not just about getting through the upcoming winter, but also about securing alternatives for years to come. Potential suppliers are countries that are reliable and trusted by the EU. From the EU point of view, this also includes the Emirate of Qatar. Even before Putin’s attack on Ukraine, EU Council President Michel had been in contact with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Fracking concerns now seem secondary

The need to replace Russian energy supplies, now apparent to all, seems to have put aside concerns in the EU about LNG supplies from the US in February, before the start of the war in Ukraine, SPD MEP Jens Geier pointed out that in the US natural gas was extracted using the fracking method “under extremely harmful conditions for the environment”.

Biden should be aware of such concerns in the EU. That is why, during his appearance in the Belgian capital, he also made it clear that the latest energy initiative by Brussels and Washington also aims to reduce Europe’s long-term dependence on gas and expand renewable energies. The US president announced the joint production of green hydrogen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

LPG for Germany initially ends up elsewhere in the EU

In the short term, however, the question arises as to how the liquefied gas, which is also supplied from the USA, will reach Germany. Unlike other EU countries, Germany does not have its own terminal for liquefied gas arriving from countries like the US and Qatar. The LNG terminals, for their part, are located in Dunkirk (France), Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Zeebrugge (Belgium). Until now, German energy providers have been using these ports to obtain the liquefied gas supplied from the US.

The terminal in Brunsbüttel should be ready by 2026 at the latest

Almost four weeks ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced the rapid construction of two LNG terminals in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven. In early March, the federal government, the Dutch gas network operator Gasunie and the RWE group signed a corresponding agreement for Brunsbüttel.

The first LNG terminal in Germany will be built in the port of Brunsbüttel.Photo: Frank Molter/dpa

In the past, planning for the terminal had progressed slowly. That should change now, especially since the federal government is involved with around 500 million euros. Completion of the first German liquefied gas terminal in Brunsbüttel is expected by 2026 at the latest.


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