In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives dated 29 March 2018, Minister Wiebes of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate announced that natural gas extraction from the Groningen gas field will be terminated entirely in the coming years. No later than 2022 and possibly one year sooner, the natural gas extraction level will be reduced to below 12 billion Nm3. In subsequent years, it will gradually be reduced to zero.
According to the Dutch Government, the consequences of natural gas extraction in the Dutch province of Groningen, such as earthquakes, damage to homes and other buildings and uncertainty among the region’s inhabitants, are no longer socially acceptable. The Dutch Government views ongoing natural gas extraction, combined with massive financial compensation and restoration and reinforcement operations, as forming an untenable situation.
In order to remove the cause of earthquake risks, the Dutch Government is taking measures to end natural gas extraction from the Groningen field as soon as possible. Although the feasibility of some of these measures is still being reviewed, the letter describes a number of far-reaching measures which have to be taken to reduce natural gas extraction in Groningen:
- A new nitrogen installation will be built in Zuidbroek for conversion of high-calorific natural gas into low-calorific natural gas. Other possibilities for obtaining low-calorific natural gas are being studied.
- By 2022, all large industrial Groningen gas users must have switched to other sources of energy. This concerns a total of 170 companies that, together, consume around 4.4 billion Nm3 in low-calorific gas.
- By 2029, low-calorific natural gas will no longer be exported from the Netherlands.
- Natural gas-free home construction will become the norm during the present government term and the Dutch Government has made funds available for the conversion of existing homes to natural gas-free properties. In addition, possibilities for gas demand reduction by the glasshouse horticulture sector are being reviewed.
- The Minister expects to have a legislative proposal submitted to Parliament sat the end of May to amend the Dutch Gas Act and Dutch Mining Act to implement a “never more than necessary” level of gas production in respect of the Groningen field, reducing production to the minimum level which is necessary for the security of supply.
In his letter, Minister Wiebes indicated that further details of measures to reduce natural gas extraction in Groningen will be available before summer.
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Martin In de Braekt
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Victor van Campen
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