Accelerated deployment of LNG import facilities in Europe
To cope with the drop in natural gas imports from Russia, some 25 new floating storage and regasification units should be installed in the European Union, with the first installations to be operational by the end of 2022.
The sharp drop in natural gas imports from Russia – whose share in European imports fell from 50% in 2021 to 9% at the beginning of September 2022 – has led European countries to urgently plan numerous projects for rapidly operational LNG import facilities.
Most plans are for floating LNG import facilities – called FSRUs (Floating Storage and Regasification Units) – which can be installed faster than permanent onshore import terminals. Most often, these are refitted LNG transport tankers that can quickly move LNG into the local pipeline system. Some 25 new FSRUs are expected to be installed in the EU in the coming years, the first of which should already be operational before the end of 2022.
Germany is arguably the EU Member State most affected by Russian gas cuts, as just over half of its natural gas supply was imported from Russia in 2021. Due to Germany’s lack of regasification facilities, the German government has announced plans for five new FSRUs as well as two permanent onshore LNG import sites. The combined capacity of the floating units is equivalent to around 30% of Russian gas imports into Germany. Two of the units are expected to be available from late 2022.
There are also plans for five FSRUs in Greece – which aims to become a gas hub for supply to the wider south-eastern European region – as well as two in the Netherlands, two in Italy (plus two more for the island of Sardinia), and two in Ireland.
FSRUs are also planned in a number of other EU countries, including France, Finland, Estonia, Cyprus, and Poland.
Europe currently has an import capacity of around 160 million tonnes/year (220 bcm/year), but according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), EU LNG terminals could provide a gateway for over 285 bcm of imports by 2030, enough to meet estimated import demand at that time.