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A record global LNG trade growth: what it means for CEE

In 2022, global liquified natural gas (LNG) imports reached 389.2 million tonnes (MT), an increase of 16.9 MT compared with the previous year, according to the latest report by the International Association of LNG Importers (GIIGNL). European buyers turned to the LNG market to replace pipeline supplies from Russia, which shifted global LNG trade flows. Indeed, the annual growth rate reached 4.5 per cent, with Europe absorbing most of the supply increase. In total, 45 markets imported LNG volumes from 20 exporting countries.

2022 was another record year for long-term LNG contracting, with more than 81 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of new contracts signed during the year, most of which with US volumes.

At the end of 2022, global regasification capacity reached 1,068 MTPA, with 9 new regasification terminals that started commercial operations, including two projects commissioned in Europe. Other regasification capacity additions included those from Central and Eastern Europe, namely in Poland and Croatia.

Turkey leads the CEE region in terms of LNG imports, totalling 10.63 MT in 2022, followed by Poland (4.36 MT), Greece (2.75 MT), Lithuania (2.19 MT) and Croatia (1.83 MT).

Among the contracts signed in 2022, we quote here two major agreements between Sempra Infrastructure (United States) and Orlen Group (Poland), to begin exports/imports of LNG in 2027 for 20 years.

GIIGNL’s report noted major developments in the regasification capacity of the CEE region with a lot of developments to wait for in the upcoming years.

Source: GIIGNL report.

For example, in April 2022, LNG Croatia increased the initial annual capacity of the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU), located on the island of Krk, to 2.9 bcm per annum and in August 2022 it announced plans to increase the capacity to 6.1 bcma.

In June 2022, Estonia’s TSO, Elering started construction work on the 1.2-kilometre pipeline connecting a planned FSRU-based LNG import terminal in Paldiski to the grid. In September 2022, the first phase of the construction of the terminal was reported to be completed.

In November 2022, the 145,000 cubic metres FSU Gaslog Athens, leased from Gaslog and moored by Greece’s TSO DESFA offshore the Revithoussa LNG terminal, started operations. The addition of the FSU has increased the storage capacity of the LNG Terminal of Revithoussa to approximately 370,000 cubic metres of LNG. According to DESFA’s National Development Plan, small-scale LNG truck loading infrastructure is expected to be ready in Revithoussa in 2023 and a small-scale LNG bunkering facility is expected in 2024.

Also in Greece, in May 2022, Gastrade started work at the 5.5 bcma Alexandroupolis FSRU project, which will have four LNG storage tanks with a total capacity of 153,500 cubic metres of LNG, three regasification units, with a capacity of 315,000 cubic metres per hour each and systems for side to side (STS) mooring for LNG offloading.

In April 2023, the Latvian government abandoned plans for the Skulte LNG terminal after receiving unfavourable reports on its commercial viability. Thus, Latvia’s Ministry of Climate and Energy is working on arranging access for the joint use of the Paldinski LNG terminal in Estonia.

In October 2022, Lithuania’s Klaipėdos Nafta exercised its option to acquire the FSRU Independence from Höegh LNG. The ownership transfer will take place in December 2024. Also, it is exploring the possibility of expanding the capacity of the Klaipeda LNG terminal to 2.5 bcma.

In Poland, GAZ-SYSTEM completed the first stage of the expansion project at the Świnoujście LNG Terminal while the second stage is ongoing. It includes a third LNG storage tank, auxiliary installations and equipment and connection to the existing infrastructure.

Finally, in Turkey, the upgrade of the LNG terminal jetty to receive Q-max size and small-scale vessels in EgeGaz’s Aliağa LNG facility was completed and Botas finished the construction of a new jetty in Saros Bay for the Saros FSRU project.

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