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Uniper, German government ramp up LNG imports at Wilhelmshaven

(Reuters) - The German government on Thursday committed to chartering two floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) via utility Uniper and two at the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven, a future handling hub for LNG.

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The Economy Ministry last weekend said it wants to build four FSRUs to be sourced from Uniper and rival RWE, speeding their employment to diversify the country's sourcing away from Russian pipeline gas in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The northern deepsea port will be the first location to host arrivals of seaborne LNG already in the winter of 2022/23, according to a Uniper press release.

Backed by federal economy minister Robert Habeck, who has legislated for more LNG procurement and earmarked 2.94 B euros for the FSRUs, the government of the northern state of Lower Saxony is keen to turn the port into an LNG landing hub.

Initially, one FSRU will anchor in Wilhelmshaven, operated by Uniper, and regasify the arrivals.

It will have a capacity of 7.5 Bcmper year, equivalent to 8.5% of total German gas demand.

The gas will then be fed into Germany's pipeline grid via ship-to-onshore links to be provided by Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG (NPorts) and in close cooperation with Uniper.

In the longer term, the two parties intend to install more facilities to be able to switch to renewable gas and clean hydrogen at the site, in line with Germany's climate protection commitments.

Uniper will invest 65 MM euros ($68.82 MM) into creating and operating links to onshore value chains.

Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said Uniper would leverage its "expertise as a global LNG protagonist and gas trader."

A connection line from the port to existing long-distance gas transport pipelines and underground storage caverns is being built by regulated pipeline company OGE.

Politicians initiated the construction of the FSRU's coastal reception site where wider terminal capacities will be made available up to 2025 for the green gases.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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