A first floating storage and regasification unit is being readied to start operations before the end of this year in Wilhelmshaven on the north-west German coastline of the North Sea.

Project sources revealed to TradeWinds that the RWE-chartered FSRU, the 170,000-cbm Hoegh Esperanza (built 2018), will be in place at the German port before the end of this year.

Commissioning cargoes are also understood to have been acquired for the new facility, which will be operated by German trader Uniper.

There had been some expectation that one of Uniper’s two chartered-in, Dynagas-controlled FSRUs would be the first on site in that location but the Hoegh LNG vessel is now expected to claim the crown.

Sources indicated that some form of work may be needed for the Dynagas vessels before they start work.

Local reports said construction work is on schedule.

The construction of pipework for the facility is said to have come on at pace under pressure from the German government to put LNG imports in place before year-end as it strives to move away from Russian pipeline gas.

According to the Lower Saxony Ministry of Energy, the new terminal is due to start operations on 23 December, although the weather conditions could alter this date.

The new Wilhelmshaven terminal is expected to provide capacity to import around 7.5bn cbm of natural gas, which is equivalent to 8.5% of Germany’s requirements.

Germany has signed up to five FSRUs to date with a sixth private project also in the works.

French energy company Engie has inked a deal to charter in a regas unit from Excelerate Energy, which will also be installed at Wilhelmshaven in 2023.

In 2020, Uniper advanced long-held plans for an LNG import terminal at Wilhelmshaven, signing a contract for a Q-Max sized newbuilding to be sited there by the end of 2022.

But this project was later scrapped and the on-order vessel switched to an LNG carrier with the trader opting to make the leap straight to a green hydrogen development for the site.

In addition to the planned Wilhelmshaven FSRU duo, the German government will also site vessels at Brunsbuttel, Staade and Lubmin. But those working closely on the business said it currently remains a little blurry as to where each vessel will be sited.