The State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG) in Lower Saxony has approved the early start of construction of a 26-kilometer underground pipeline between the future LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven and the connection to the national natural gas network in Etzel (municipality of Friedeburg).


The aim is to meet the ambitious schedule of being able to import liquefied natural gas in Germany for the first time at the turn of the year 2022/2023. The deadline for objections ended just a few days ago. There were 14 submissions and one overall statement. Ramming work for the LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven began at the beginning of May. Meanwhile, according to media reports, there are considerations of expropriating parts of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and using them for the LNG connection lines.

Which has already been approved

The permit essentially includes preparatory work. The company Open Grid Europe, as the operator of the feeder line, can already cut down trees along the route of the line, set up construction roads, salvage possible explosive ordnance and build the first crossings. If the current planning approval procedure is not successful, everything has to be dismantled again. Due to the Federal LNG Acceleration Act, the usual deadlines are shortened and environmental audits are no longer necessary. This is intended to secure Germany’s gas supply if Russian gas supplies to Germany come to a standstill due to the Ukraine war and the tensions between the West and Russia.

The Wilhelmshaven Connection Line (WAL) should have a diameter of one meter. An annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas is initially planned. In the years that follow, a gradual expansion to up to 28 billion cubic meters of gas per year is planned. The liquefied natural gas transported by ship in the cryogenic state is first to be converted back into the gaseous state on board floating systems and then pumped via the pipeline in the direction of East Frisia.

The course of the planned gas pipeline between the LNG terminal under construction in Wilhelmshaven and Etzel (East Friesland)

One of the largest gas storage facilities in Europe

At the end of the line, in Etzel, is one of the largest oil and gas storage sites in Europe with 75 caverns in a salt dome. According to the operating company, Storag, a considerable part of the total volume of all German crude oil and natural gas reserves is already stored there. As a result, there is also a connection to four national pipelines. The Norddeutsche Erdgas Transversale (NETRA) is of particular interest for feeding in the regasified liquefied natural gas.

Nord Stream 2 parts for LNG pipelines?

The Federal Ministry of Economics is now considering using above-ground parts of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline for the LNG connection lines. This reports the news magazine “Der Spiegel”. According to the report, the parts of the plant located on German territory are to be expropriated and cut off for this purpose. The pipeline, which was completed but never put into operation, belongs to the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. In the event of implementation, Russia announced that it would go to court.