DIt is widely known that energy, food, building materials and many other things have become significantly more expensive. However, the terminals for liquid gas (LNG), which the federal government is currently building under high pressure on Germany’s coasts. Federal costs for these systems have more than doubled, according to documents from a budget committee meeting. Instead of 2.94 billion euros as planned in the spring, 6.56 billion euros have now been calculated for this year alone. The LNG inflation thus amounts to 123 percent – in contrast, the 10 percent general inflation seems almost low.
Other European countries have had an infrastructure for liquefied gas for years, but companies in Germany resisted the idea for a long time. It was only when the federal government announced the prospect of significant state support after the start of the Ukraine war in the spring that things started to move. At first there was talk of two systems, but now the number has risen to seven. Most of these are floating terminals, so-called FSRUs. These can be erected more quickly than facilities on land. A floating terminal in Wilhelmshaven is already finished. The first LNG tankers are to dock there around the turn of the year 2022/2023. The liquid gas is then converted back into gas and fed into the grid.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) defended the increased costs on Monday. On the one hand, there were more projects than initially planned. And renting the terminals alone is not enough. “We also have to include the infrastructure,” he said. The whole thing is a process. The liquid gas terminals made the gas supply in Germany safer. It is clear that there must be “a certain commitment from the public sector” for this. But it is not a one-way street, stressed Habeck. The background is that the terminal customers should pay “regasification fees”. However, the ministry has not yet given any figures for the expected income. A spokeswoman for Habeck said the halt to gas supplies from Russia through Nord Stream 1 made it clear how important an alternative infrastructure is.
More budget needed
As a result, additional budget funds will be required for 2023 – to what extent is an open question. In addition, around 739 million euros are available for the participation of the state development bank KfW at the planned stationary terminal in Brunsbüttel. This affects the budget years up to and including 2041, the ministry said. KfW takes over 50 percent in Brunsbüttel and is the largest shareholder, Gasunie has a 40 percent stake and RWE 10 percent. Here, too, a smaller share of around 500 million euros from the federal government was once planned.
Environmentalists are critical of state investments in a liquid gas infrastructure, especially since the charter contracts are now expected to run for 15 instead of just 10 years, according to the documents. “It’s time for an LNG moratorium and a review of all projects,” wrote Constantin Zerger, Head of Energy at Deutsche Umwelthilfe, on Twitter. The Greens budget politician Sven Christian Kindler warned in the “Spiegel” that Germany should not create “any fossil overcapacities for the future”. The leader of the Greens, Katharina Dröge, warned of a “lock-in effect”, not with regard to the liquid gas terminals, but because of the federal government’s offer to help Senegal develop a gas field. Contracts with other countries must be aimed at expanding renewable energies, she said.