Manuela Schwesig (L), State Premier of the northeastern federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Markus Soeder, State Premier of the southern federal state of Bavaria, take a selfie as they stand on a pleasure boat navigating on the Greifswalder Bodden (Bay of Greifswald) after signing an agreement on the construction of processing facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and after visiting a site of Gascade and Deutsche ReGas where it is planned to feed the existing OPAL/NEL pipeline network with LNG in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, close to the border with Poland, on August 30, 2022. - Lubmin's industrial infrastructure includes a receiving and distribution station for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and is also the place where the finally canned Nord Stream 2 pipeline for more gas from Russia comes to shore. The construction of a terminal to receive LNG at the site is planned. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

As far as self-presentation is concerned, Manuela Schwesig (SPD) can learn something from Markus Söder (CSU). The two state leaders of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bavaria stand together at the railing of the excursion boat “Kleine Freiheit”. The sky in soft blue and white, in the background the rocks of Rügen. Both beam into the cameras, both wearing jackets with the coats of arms of their countries. Then Söder pulls his cell phone out of his pocket. A short selfie with Schwesig, the next post for Twitter and Instagram is ready.

The meeting in the north came about on the initiative of the Bavarian Prime Minister. He wants to find out about the future gas supply via a floating LNG terminal in the Baltic Sea port of Lubmin. Ironically, Söder and Schwesig. Both are considered pariahs of energy policy. Söder because his CSU in Bavaria has long blocked the expansion of the electricity grid and wind power and now fears energy shortages this winter. Schwesig, because she had long been committed to a pseudo-climate protection foundation, under the guise of which Russia was able to complete the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Since energy prices have been going through the roof, Schwesig has been selling itself as part of the solution. Lubmin, where the pipes from Nord Stream 1 and 2 land and the three large overland pipelines Eugal, Opal and NEL distribute the gas in Germany, plays a central role in this.

“The pipeline is not only good for MV, it’s also good for Bavaria and other countries along the pipes,” says Schwesig. 130 billion cubic meters of gas can be distributed from here, significantly more than Germany’s annual consumption of around 90 billion cubic meters. But for that, gas has to flow. But that is not in the hands of the state government in Schwerin. “It is therefore not right and not fair that many have pointed the finger at MV in the past few months,” says Schwesig annoyed.

In the port of Lubmin, Söder and Schwesig first look at the Nord Stream 1 landing station. The complex is located between pine trees a few meters behind the Baltic Sea coast. Flat-roofed gray buildings, curving white pipes and chimneys. When Söder – a special safety helmet with a Bavarian flag on his head – and Schwesig enter the premises, a noise can be heard. The Russian state-owned company Gazprom is still pumping gas through the pipes. However, only 20 percent of the possible capacities. From Wednesday the noise will be silent for at least three days. The official reason is renewed maintenance work.

“Putin is playing a game with us, that’s obvious,” says Söder in the port of Lubmin. This is becoming more and more of a problem, especially for his state. Bavaria has relied more heavily on gas from Russia than any other federal state, but you are sitting at the end of the pipeline. If too little gas reaches the north, the pressure is not sufficient to transport it south. In addition, the gas storage facilities in the south are the least filled.

But Söder remains self-confident on board the “Little Freedom”. He talks about Bavaria’s strengths: the largest federal state, the most industrial jobs, a gross domestic product as large as that of Portugal, the Czech Republic and Greece together. “If the energy supply didn’t work for us, then Germany would have a problem overall,” says Söder.

In order for Schwesig and Söder to get out of trouble, gas must continue to arrive in Lubmin in the future. Two Potsdam founders want to ensure this with their company “Deutsche Regas”. In cooperation with “Total Energy” they are planning a private floating LNG terminal in Lubmin. “This is the perfect place to moor such a special ship – if only the Bay of Greifswald weren’t so shallow,” says Stephan Knabe, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

In fact, the Baltic Sea is only around ten meters deep here in most places – not enough for the heavy LNG tankers. That is why the company wants to unload the liquefied natural gas from the tanker with small shuttle ships on the high seas and bring it to the regasification ship in the port. “There is practically no need to intervene in the ecosystem,” says Knabe. For their plans, they only have to lay a few meters of pipe, and the gas should be flowing by December 1st. But the capacities are manageable because of the shuttle solution. Around 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas should be in the first project phase. At least enough for two million households, calculates Knabe.

Söder nods contentedly. “Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is not the largest state, but it does great things,” he says and also thanks Schwesig for having endured the media and political storm of the past few months.

Schwesig is also satisfied with the visit from Bavaria. Together with Söder, she signs a declaration of intent that the Free State wants to send personnel to the north so that the many approval procedures for the wind turbines and the LNG terminal can be managed. But this day is also about symbolism. According to reports, there are only three or four officials.