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LNG Move of Germany in the Context of the Energy Crisis

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The region most affected by the Russia-Ukraine War, which started on February 24, 2022, has been Continental Europe. The war is taking place in the region. However, the fact that many countries in Europe are dependent on Russian natural gas has put these countries in a dilemma. One of the countries mentioned is Germany. Accordingly, Germany has turned to alternative searches in order to ensure energy security. In this context, the Berlin administration has put the liquefied natural gas (LNG) option on the agenda.

On the other hand, it is necessary to mention the process by which LNG is transported. As is known, natural gas is transported by ships in cases where it is not possible to transport it by pipeline. LNG, which is the liquefied form of natural gas, is a clear, colorless, odorless and clean burning fuel. LNG, which is cooled to -162° C and becomes liquid, shrinks 600 times at the end of this process. Thus, it becomes easier and safer to store and transport.[1] At this point, it can be said that LNG comes to the fore more in cases where pipelines cannot reach.

Along with all this, it is worth mentioning Germany’s policy towards Russia before the war. Berlin has followed a policy that meets a very large part of its energy needs, especially natural gas, from Moscow. Especially after the unification of East and West Germany and the end of the Cold War, relations on the Moscow-Berlin line progressed extremely warmly until the war in Ukraine. The policy pursued by the decision-makers in Germany was also effective in this. The basis of the partnership between the two countries has been energy cooperation.

Especially during the period of Gerhard Schröder, who served as Chancellor of Germany between 1998 and 2005, the Berlin administration pursued a policy of implementing a series of projects that would integrate the country’s energy policy into Moscow. In this context, the Nord Stream-1 pipeline, which started during the Schröder era and carries Russian natural gas to Germany through the Baltics, became active in 2011 during Angela Merkel’s Chancellorship. Moreover, Germany has not even canceled the Nord Stream-2 Pipeline Project with Russia, despite the pressure of countries such as the United States (US) and UK. However, after Moscow’s intervention against Kyiv, Berlin stopped the project.

Therefore, the war has been the end of Germany’s policy of importing cheap energy from Russia through pipelines. In this context, Germany has headed towards to LNG. LNG is a much more costly option compared to natural gas transferred through the pipeline. The only reason why Germany, which is the most economically developed country among the European Union (EU) countries, has not shown interest in LNG until the war is not only due to economic reasons. It can be argued that this is, first of all, a “geopolitical” choice. Berlin, due to its warm relations with Moscow, did not put this option on its agenda until the war began.

On the other hand, on December 17, 2022, Scholz inaugurated Germany’s first LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven, a port city located in the north of the country. At the opening ceremony, German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said, “Today we are taking a very important step in ensuring security of supply in Germany.” Moreover, Habeck stated that with the implementation of the new LNG terminal, Germany has shown what it can achieve in a few months if necessary. In addition to these, Scholz pointed out that a large part of the natural gas to Germany will come from Norway, the US and the Gulf countries.[2]

As can be understood, the opening of the new LNG terminal in Germany heralds the beginning of a new era in both Germany’s foreign policy and energy policy. The foreign policies pursued by countries also guide their policies in the context of energy. Therefore, with the opening of this terminal, which can be described as a turning point for Berlin, it can be said that Germany will no longer put the pipeline option on its agenda in the short and medium term.

The LNG terminal opened in Wilhelmshaven is one of the five terminals that Germany decided to build after the war. However, the natural gas planned to be obtained from these five terminals will constitute 20% of the natural gas from the Nord Stream-1 Natural Gas Pipeline.[3] This is noteworthy in that it shows the difficulties that Germany will face in terms of meeting its energy needs. Therefore, it can be argued that Berlin’s orientation towards LNG is a necessity rather than a choice.

On the other hand, it should be emphasized that Germany will export LNG from the US. Washington is one of the leading countries in the world at the point of LNG imports. Therefore, it can be said that the US has achieved its goal in a way. The main goal of the US in Europe is to prevent the German-Russian rapprochement. Given the role played by energy in this rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow, it can be more clearly understood how great a gain this is for Washington.

In conclusion, the war in Ukraine has constituted a turning point in the energy policy pursued by Germany. Thus, the Berlin administration has put the LNG option on its agenda instead of exporting cheap natural gas from Moscow. However, LNG will cover only a small part of the natural gas that Germany exports from Russia through the pipeline. For this reason, it can be argued that the conditions created by the war led Germany to build LNG terminals in the country.


[1] “LNG Process”, Saint John LNG, https://www.saintjohnlng.com/lng-process, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[2] “Germany’s First LNG Terminal is Open for Business”, Euractiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/germanys-first-lng-terminal-is-open-for-business/, (Date of Accession: 28.12.2022).

[3] “Germany Builds New Gas Terminals to Succeed Russian Pipelines”, France 24, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20221002-germany-builds-new-gas-terminals-to-succeed-russian-pipelines, (Date of Accession: 29.12.2022).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.