Energy agency chief warns against premature shut down of Groningen gas fields


Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency, has warned Dutch economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes about the effects of closing down production from the Groningen gas field prematurely.

His advice: despite the threat of earthquakes caused by the extraction of gas underground, don’t be too hasty about shutting down production, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday

‘The safety of local residents of course comes first, but do not forget that the Netherlands has chosen to be a prime distribution point for gas in western Europe. The Netherlands uses Groningen gas but so do its neighbours. The economic consequences of slowing production have to be considered,’ the economist told the FD.

The Netherlands is sharply cutting back on gas production because of the risk of earthquakes in the area.

Birol, who has headed the IEA since 2015, is pushing for the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. He says nuclear power is one means to this because it produces no CO2 emissions. But nuclear power is not universally accepted, he adds.

‘We can reduce CO2 emissions through sustainable energy such as wind and being more sparing in our use of energy,’ he told the paper.  ‘But in the long term this is not enough to reach the terms of the Paris agreement. There is no single solution to cutting back on our reliance on fossil fuels. It requires a mixture of different types of energy as well as new techniques.’

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