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Germany, seeking to break Russian dependence, opens 1st LNG terminal

(L-R) German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck attend the opening ceremony of Germany's first LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on Saturday. Photo by Lars-Josef Klemmer/EPA-EFE
(L-R) German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck attend the opening ceremony of Germany's first LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on Saturday. Photo by Lars-Josef Klemmer/EPA-EFE

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The first German floating terminal for liquefied natural gas opened on Saturday in Wilhelmshaven as the country seeks to ween itself from Russian gas before the winter.

At the opening ceremony on the North Sea coast, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the new terminal will ensure that Germany is not blackmailed by Russia.

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"As of today, Germany and the EU will become a great deal more secure and independent," the German leader said. "This is now the new pace in Germany with which we're pushing ahead with infrastructure."

The floating storage and regasification unit, in the form of the vessel Höegh Esperanza, arrived earlier this week after a pipeline connecting it to the mainland was completed last month.

The pipeline is built from 14,000 tons of steel, 1,500 tons of special-made steel pipes and 3,000 cubic meters of concrete.

Cooled down to minus 162 degrees centigrade, gas can be compressed, turned into a liquid and shipped around the world as LNG. Germany -- which received almost all of its gas via pipeline from Russia and Norway -- has never had the infrastructure necessary to turn LNG back into gaseous form.

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The terminal was built in less than a year and "shows what Germany can achieve within a few months if it has to," Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said.

By winter 2023, another three floating LNG terminals will be operational and the pipeline will be expanded, boosting capacity by another 19 billion cubic meters.

Next winter, Germany will be capable of importing some 32 billion cubic meters, according to the terminal's declared regasification capacity.

Environmentalists, however, have criticized Germany's pursuit of LNG, which they say will only lock in the future use of fossil fuels.

Environmental Action Germany said the opening of the new terminal marks the "peak of ignorance" since the environmental impact assessment was basically waived during the expedited permitting process, Bloomberg reported.

The group warned that the vessel may emit biocides into the Wadden Sea, a natural habitat listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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