30 Mar Cabinet wants to stop Groningen gas production by 2030 at the latest
The Cabinet wants the gas production in Groningen to be completely stopped in the coming decade and is taking measures for this. This goes step by step, says Prime Minister Mark Rutte Thursday.
Dutch gas production is currently 21.6 billion cubic meters per year. By 2022 at the latest, this should be below 12 billion cubic meters per year. In the “coming decade” gas production has to go to zero.
State Supervision of Mines (SSM) advised in February to reduce gas production to that 12 billion per year. For example, the chance of (heavy) earthquakes in the province would be lower. Minister Eric Wiebes (Economic Affairs) then almost immediately announced that he wanted to follow this advice.
“But even at a level of 12 billion cubic meters, it is not safe,” says the minister. “Then you still can not say that Groningen will remain Groningen.” The province has been struggling with earthquakes for years. As a result, damage to the buildings occurs.
Thursday Wiebes presents his plans on how he wants to reduce the amount of gas pumped up in the Netherlands. For example, exports to foreign countries are reduced and a new nitrogen plant is being built. This will be in Zuidbroek (East Groningen) and will cost around 500 million euros.
Because foreign gas can also be used in the Netherlands with the arrival of the nitrogen plant, less gas has to be pumped from the Dutch soil and the dependence on Groningen gas is reduced. “We have to move away from combating the symptoms, to removing the cause,” explains the minister.
Once gas production is stopped, an estimated 85 to 90 percent of the gas under the province is estimated to have been won, according to Wiebes.
The Dutch Petroleum Company (NAM), the gaswinner in the province, “does not have the flag,” reacts Wiebes to the question about how the oil company reacted to stopping.
Furthermore, the minister does not want to make any statements about NAM’s position. “I negotiate with them, and we do not want a claim for damage over the gas that remains in the soil.”
The NAM says that with Wiebes’s decision “an accelerated end is coming of gas extraction from Groningen, which has brought a lot of prosperity to the Netherlands, but also has a downside”. “In the business operations, the NAM is preparing for lower production in the coming years.”
The oil company promises that the plan will underline the importance of the energy transition and that the NAM will provide the Netherlands with the energy it needs in the coming years.
SSM reported “to give the minister further advice on the safety risks of his plan”. The regulator will also map out what the plan means for the development of the safety risks and indicate when the safety standard is met.
SodM is expected to come up with the advice at the beginning of June.