When Thomas Sanden climbs onto the crawler crane, he becomes one of the most important people in the country. in the North Sea Wilhelmshaven the factory foreman toils with his colleagues to advance the gas supply from the sea as quickly and decisively as possible. The construction workers toil, weld and sweat on the sea. Sanden in bright yellow protective trousers and a dozen other workers work all day on the “Annegret” jack-up platform, which is 20 meters wide and 40 meters long with space for pipes, cranes and a toilet. Depending on the wind and weather, waves splash in your face and water washes over your work platform. The men and their machines are ramming the 50-meter-long steel pipes around 25 meters deep into the North Sea’s subsurface directly off the coast, to which Germany’s first floating liquid gas terminal is to be attached this winter. Despite storms, tides and waves, the system is only allowed to move minimally during use.
All of this serves the major goal of securing the country’s energy supply at record speed, even without Russian pipeline gas. With the construction of the liquefied gas terminal (LNG) in Wilhelmshaven, for the first time in Germany, own capacities are being created to receive LNG ships from all over the world. So far, mainly Dutch and Belgian ports have forwarded the deliveries. In Wilhelmshaven, the first terminal is scheduled to go into operation before the end of this year.
The Green Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck drives the project forward. It is about being less susceptible to blackmail by Russia. Nevertheless, the construction of the terminals is anything but undisputed. Environmentalists criticize that the planned LNG terminals will ultimately create gas capacities that are too large, which would then be used permanently. In their eyes, this poses a serious threat to climate protection.
In Wilhelmshaven itself, nature associations fear for the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site with its birds, porpoises and many other inhabitants. The situation is tense: A green politician is asserting himself against green concerns with the construction of the liquid gas terminal and is promoting fossil energies so that gas heaters can still heat up in winter and the industry can continue to produce.
Erik Depenbrock has to step on the gas: He is managing director of the Depenbrock Group, a family company with around 1400 employees, which is building the new LNG pier in Wilhelmshaven together with Kurt Fredrich Spezialtiefbau. Before he goes out to sea that day to “Annegret”, Depenbrock, in a white shirt, climbs the iron stairs to the first floor of a container facility at the port.
The construction plans and schedules are on paper on the walls behind the door. “The project is technically very ambitious and the timeline is also extremely tight to be finished here in winter,” says he, the man who is the boss of Sanden and his colleagues at sea. So far it has worked: “We are right on schedule.”