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Occupied pipes on Rügen: According to a new study, "neither energy nor industrial policy arguments" for the project

Photo: SPM Gruppe / picture alliance/dpa/SPM Gruppe

LNG opponents gathered from Friday to Sunday for a large protest rally on Rügen. During a day of action on Saturday against the planned terminal, some activists managed to overcome fences and climb onto pipes ready for the planned pipeline on the port area of Mukran. The demonstrators had left the protest march shortly before.

At first, the police did not succeed in deterring the activists from their plans. According to the police, a total of around 700 people took part in the demonstration, which began in Sassnitz. "This is roughly in line with our figures," said Charly Dietz, spokeswoman for the Ende Gelände group, which had called for the demonstration together with the citizens' initiative Lebenswertes Rügen and Fridays for Future. According to the spokeswoman, there were also scuffles with the police.

Dietz spoke on Sunday of a successful action. "With today's day of action, we have sent a clear signal: The expansion of fossil infrastructure is encountering a wide range of resistance." It was only on Thursday that Greenpeace activists blocked the pipeline laying vessel in the Bay of Greifswald that is to build the connection line for the terminal. Two applications by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu) and the German Environmental Aid (DUH), with which the environmental organisations each wanted to achieve a construction stop, were rejected by the Federal Administrative Court.

DIW study questions the necessity of the terminal

"Fossil gas is an accelerant of the climate crisis. 2023 will go down in history as the year in which climate collapse began," Dietz warned. 150 activists, including people in wheelchairs, managed to block a pipeline storage facility in the industrial port of Mukran. According to the police, they are investigating an initial suspicion of trespassing and possibly damage to property.

The local Green Youth supported the demonstration. The Green Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck, on the other hand, sees the terminal as part of the national energy security strategy. Last week in Rostock, he emphasized that Mukran is a large port where, in principle, industry actually belongs. "In this respect, of the difficult alternatives, it is certainly the best we have found." Even if the gas supply emergency has been averted, it has not been overcome.

Economist Christian von Hirschhausen reiterated his rejection of the expansion of the import infrastructure for liquefied natural gas (LNG) on Friday. This sabotages the energy transition. It is not a technical dispute, but a political one, said the expert of the German Institute for Economic Research at a press conference on Rügen. "And we're right." He warned that the federal government was getting lost. "There are neither energy nor industrial policy arguments for the development of the Mukran LNG project," says the DIW study commissioned by DUH.

The federal government, on the other hand, argues, among other things, with the favorable grid connection in Lubmin, Western Pomerania, where Nord Stream 1 and 2 also land and large capacities are available for further distribution to the east and south, among others. Existing pipelines only allowed gas transport from West to East Germany to a limited extent. The infrastructure in the north and west of the country is working at full capacity. Therefore, feed-in capacities are needed in the east.

According to the will of the federal government, the controversial terminal should be able to go into operation next winter – a tight schedule. Approval procedures and work for the approximately 50-kilometre-long connecting pipeline are already underway. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, a cold winter could again lead to rising gas prices and, in the worst case, a shortage. In addition, possible malfunctions would also have to be taken into account. In the event of shortages, Germany is also legally obliged to supply Eastern European countries, for example, if Russian deliveries from Ukraine fail to materialize.