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Germany's HEH delays binding open season for Stade LNG import terminal


No binding process before summer on market volatility

Clarification of political framework conditions also a factor

HEH had hoped to invite binding capacity bids in January

Hanseatic Energy Hub -- the developer of the planned LNG import terminal at Stade in northern Germany -- has decided to delay the binding phase of its capacity booking process, a senior company official told S&P Global Platts Jan. 12.

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Danielle Stoves, HEH's commercial and regulatory director, said the company would not hold the open season before summer, having originally intended to invite binding bids this month.

"We wanted to do the binding open season in January, but we've reviewed that due to the current market turbulence and volatility," Stoves said. "We're now moving it and won't run the binding open season before the summer," she said, with the timing of the process still dependent on market conditions.

European gas prices have seen unprecedented volatility in recent months on winter supply uncertainty.

The TTF day-ahead price hit an all-time high of Eur182.78/MWh Dec. 21, according to Platts assessments, a 985% increase year on year.

Prices have cooled somewhat since, with Platts assessing the TTF day-ahead price at Eur74.83/MWh Jan. 12.

The 12 Bcm/year onshore Stade LNG terminal is the largest of two remaining LNG plants under development in northern Germany, the other being the planned 8 Bcm/year project at Brunsbuttel.

Stoves said discussions around the future political framework conditions for gas infrastructure in the EU and Germany also played into the decision to delay the binding open season.

Within the next months, the new German government is expected to present an accelerated coal phase-out plan, linked with a plan to stimulate investments in gas-fired power generation, as indicated in the coalition agreement.

"It isn't the right time to ask for capacity commitments," Stoves said, adding however that shareholders in the project remained fully committed.

HEH completed the first non-binding phase of the capacity open season in February 2021 and confirmed market interest from global participants that supported the "full planned capacity" of the facility.

The project received a further boost in March when Belgian gas infrastructure operator Fluxys joined as a shareholder and long-term operator.

The entry of Fluxys into the project followed an investment into HEH by private markets firm Partners Group. Commercial operations at the project are set to start in 2026.

Rival projects

Germany has no LNG import terminals at present, and Uniper in 2020 abandoned plans for a 10 Bcm/year floating LNG import terminal at Wilhelmshaven.

The Brunsbuttel project was also hit by a setback in November 2021, when Dutch storage company Vopak said it had decided to end its "active participation" in the project.

Vopak was one of three companies that formed the German LNG Terminal (GLT) development company together with Dutch gas grid operator Gasunie and Germany's Oiltanking.

A spokesperson for GLT told Platts that the goal of building and operating the terminal would "continue to be pursued."

There have been no announcements of binding capacity contracts to support the Brunsbuttel project development.