Energy giant ‘actively’ eyes plans to reopen Middlesbrough gas terminal

Trafigura had been waiting for the right market conditions before restarting operations at the decommissioned gas site.

16 March 2022

Energy trading giant Trafigura is “actively looking” at reopening a gas terminal in the north-east of England as the UK and Europe try to reduce their reliance on Russian energy.

The Swiss company has had the option for years to reopen the Teesside site, but was waiting for the “right market window”.

After gas prices soared in recent months, the company confirmed to the PA news agency that the plans are being considered at the moment.

“We are actively looking.

“In the current market conditions we are seeing unprecedented interest in establishing Teesside as a major import terminal of LNG into the UK.

“All substantive technical design and permitting work has been completed to allow the project that includes using a FSRU (floating storage regasification unit) to be constructed.”

The site started to bring gas into the UK in 2007, but its previous owner shut it down in 2015, saying it had got to the end of its commercially viable life.

Trafigura bought the rights to the site two years later.

The plan could open another route for gas from the Middle East or the US into the UK, and onwards to Europe.

At its height the site could bring as much as 600 million cubic feet of gas a day into the country.

This could help reduce the need for Russian natural gas, which currently heats homes and keeps heavy industry running across the continent.

Oil has for a long time been brought by ship into Europe, but gas is more complicated to ship.

To do so the methane gas needs to be cooled to 160 degrees below freezing, which turns it liquid. It can then be pumped on to purpose-built ships which keep it chilled as it is transported.

At the other end the methane can once again be turned into gas and piped into the UK’s gas grid.

But this can only happen in plants which are set up to take the methane off ships and convert it back into gas.

The UK currently has three such sites, a significant proportion of the total across Europe.

A fourth active site would help ship more gas into the UK, which could be used here or piped to mainland Europe.

Spain has the highest number of LNG terminals in Europe but the country has limited pipeline connections with the rest of Europe, so it is difficult to get the gas that arrives there to Germany, which uses huge quantities of Russian gas.

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