A Dutch company plans to start drilling for gas in the North Sea, off the coast of the Wadden Sea islands of Schiermonnikoog and Borkum, now that the German regional authority has given its backing to the plan.
Germany had been opposed to drilling for gas in the area, but the Dutch government has already given its approval, broadcaster NOS reported on Wednesday.
The field is some 20 kilometres north of the islands and contains low calorie gas which is suitable for domestic use in the Netherlands and parts of Germany.
According to Chris de Ruyter van Steveninck, director of Dutch firm One-Dyas, the field and those nearby have a potential of 60 billion cubic mebres. The Netherlands uses 40 billion cubic metres of gas a year, Germany 90 billion.
‘We think that we can supply 5% of Dutch gas demand on an annual basis,’ De Ruyter van Steveninck told broadcaster NOS. ‘Local gas is cleaner, more reliable and more affordable than imported gas. The German government realises this and that is why they now support the project.’
The mayors of the two nearby islands are both opposed to the development and say they are concerned about the impact on the environment. Research by the Dutch economic affairs ministry into the likely effect concluded there would be minimal damage during both construction and while the gas is being pumped up.
The Netherlands has so far resisted calls to boost the production of gas from under Groningen province, which is being phased out because of the damage to property caused by earthquakes as the ground settles again.
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