FRANKFURT, Sept 20 (Reuters) - A new floating reception terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) off the German Baltic Coast should be operational from the first quarter of 2024, gas pipeline operator Gascade, which is building its onshore connection, said on Wednesday.

Located off Mukran on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, the terminal will host two floating storage and reception units (FSRUs) for LNG deliveries into the German mainland and for exports to eastern European neighbours, as the region ends reliance on Russian pipeline gas.

"All things going well, we will be able to start up the operations in the first quarter (of 2024)," Ulrich Benterbusch, managing director of Gascade, said at a Handelsblatt newspaper industry conference.

"There's got to be a feed-in point for LNG in eastern Germany and Mukran is the right location for securing energy supply not just there, but also for south-east Europe," he said.

Gascade, jointly owned by producer Wintershall Dea and nationalised importer SEFE, needs to build a subsea link, called OAL, from Mukran to mainland gas grids via the mainland port Lubmin.

Lubmin used to serve as the landing point for Nord Stream, the Russian export pipeline rendered dysfunctional after an explosion last year.

Mukran is heavily contested by environmentalists and municipalities concerned about the possible impact on tourism.

It scored a legal victory last week when the Leipzig Federal Administrative Court allowed Gascade's connection pipeline, throwing out objections brought by environmental groups.

It cited the need to diversify gas receipts in a lasting supply crisis triggered by Russia's halt of exports.

Gascade operates the Opal and Eugal pipelines, among a network of others, originally built for onward despatches of Russian gas via the Czech border, apart from deliveries directed westwards.

Further construction approvals along the designated OAL lines are expected for the end of September and pipe-laying should be completed by year-end, Benterbusch said. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Bernadette Baum)