Less Groningen gas will be pumped up than thought, despite Ukraine war

A gas drilling site. Photo: Graham Dockery
A gas drilling site. Photo: Graham Dockery

More natural gas will be pumped out from under Groningen province than had been hoped, but not as much as the cabinet warned about last December, mining minister Hans Vijlbrief has told MPs.

The government warned in December that 7.6 billion cubic metres of gas may be needed to shore up dwindling supplies but the total is likely to be nearer 4.6 billion cubic metres, the minister said.

A definitive decision will be taken by April 1. The gas fields are due to close permanently in 2023 or 2024.

Reopening the Groningen gas fields is seen as one way of breaking Dutch, and European, dependency on Russian gas, following the war in Ukraine.

Dutch energy experts told MPs last week the Netherlands could reduce its use of Russian gas in the short term with a variety of measures, including potentially extracting more gas from the Groningen field.

According to research institute TNO around 20% of the gas the country imports comes from Russia, but that within three months the country could find alternatives.

However, ministers are unwilling to turn the taps back on fully again in Groningen, given the impact on the local community from earthquakes as the land settles, and the fact that thousands have not yet been compensated.

The focus, instead, is on finding other sources of energy, such as importing LNG, by expanding the current terminals in Rotterdam and Eemshaven, energy minister Rob Jetten said.

Ministers are also placing more emphasis on improving the insulation of private homes, in an effort to cut gas usage.

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