After a decade of relative stagnation, LNG import capacity in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) is set to increase by 34% in 2024 compared with 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA, citing data from the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL) and trade press, said liquefied natural gas import capacity would reach 5.3 Bcf by the end of 2023 and then grow by an additional 1.5 Bcf/d by the end of 2024.
LNG regasification capacity in the EU-27, before Croatia joined, and the UK remained relatively stable and expanded modestly in the last 10 years, only by 2.8 Bcf/d (16%), EIA said. During this time, import capacity rose to 20.2 Bcf/d at the end of 2021 from 17.5 Bcf/d in 2012, GIIGNL data showed.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February and the reduction in natural gas pipeline imports from Russia that followed, European countries have reactivated development of previously dormant regasification projects and have started development of new projects.
Many of the new regasification projects in Europe can be developed relatively quickly by chartering Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRUs) and by building pipelines to transport regasified natural gas to connecting pipelines onshore, EIA researchers noted. Other regasification projects in Europe would expand capacity at existing onshore terminals and implement upgrades to increase existing terminals’ throughput, they said.
So far this year, about 1.7 Bcf/d of the new and expanded LNG regasification capacity has been added in the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, Italy and Germany, according to EIA.
The new EemsEnergy terminal in the Netherlands (0.8 Bcf/d capacity) consists of two FSRU vessels and received its first import cargo in September 2022. The import terminal is seen by Dutch power grid operator NV Nederlandse Gasunie as “an important contribution to security of supply” in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Management for New Fortress Energy Inc., which also chartered an FSRU into the EemsEnergy terminal, said it wants to move supplies produced at its Fast LNG units to expanding regasification capacity on the continent. NFE does not need to secure customers for the super-chilled fuel as it may sell into the grid at prices tied to the Dutch Title Transfer Facility.
Meanwhile, a new FSRU terminal at Wilhelmshaven Port in Germany (0.7 Bcf/d capacity) was completed this month, EIA said.
Regasification terminals currently under construction in seven EU countries could add an additional 3.5 Bcf/d of new capacity by the end of 2023:
- Germany is developing three new FSRU terminals, which cumulatively would add 1.4 Bcf/d of regasification capacity at Lubmin, Brunsbuettel and Wilhelmshaven. Lubmin and Brunsbüttel are expected to start operations this winter, and the second terminal at Wilhelmshaven is expected online in 2023.
- Poland is set to expand capacity at the existing LNG regasification terminal at Świnoujście by 0.2 Bcf/d, for a total capacity of 0.8 Bcf/d by December 2023.
- France is to add 0.4 Bcf/d of regasification capacity using an FSRU vessel called Cape Anne at Le Havre port, which is expected to come online in fall 2023.
- Finland and Estonia are jointly developing an FSRU terminal in the Finnish port of Inkoo, which will add 0.5 Bcf/d capacity and is expected to come online this winter.
- Italy is leasing an FSRU terminal vessel called Golar Tundra near the port of Piombino, which would add 0.5 Bcf/d of capacity and likely come online in spring 2023. This would be close to areas of high gas consumption. Another called the Tundra would contribute about 6.5% of Italy’s domestic needs, according to Snam SpA CEO Stefano Venier.
- Greece will bring online an FSRU vessel at Alexandroupolis port by the end of 2023, with 0.5 Bcf/d of regasification capacity. Greek utility Gastrade SA plans to locate the vessel about 11 miles off the Greek port to supply LNG to Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia.
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