Groningen gas a ‘last resort’, minister confirms as inquiry winds down

Earthquakes in the north have damaged houses. Photo:

The Netherlands will open the Groningen gas fields again if hospitals in Germany or Belgium are faced with a shortage of gas this winter, mines minister Hans Vijlbrief said on Wednesday.

Vijlbrief made the comments while being questioned at the parliamentary inquiry into the Groningen gas industry and its impact on the local population.

Gas production from under the province is now being wound down and is due to end in 2024, despite the global gas crisis. But Vijlbrief again reiterated that the gas taps would be turned on again in extreme situations, such a hospital energy shortage.

The minister also said that calls to close off the Groningen supply immediately were not sensible, given ‘no one knows how the war [in Ukraine] will develop’.

This is the last week of the inquiry’s public hearings with prime minister Mark Rutte and Shell chief Ben van Beurden due to be questioned on Thursday. They are expected to be asked about the complex public private partnership which ran the gas fields.

The inquiry aims to find out exactly why the exploitation of the massive gas field under the northern province discovered in 1959 has led to so much criticism and concern from locals, damaged thousands of homes, caused billions of euros in extra costs and a continuing dispute about who is responsible for what.

More than 1,000 quakes of up to 3.6 on the Richter scale have hit the province since 1986. So far, over 126,000 reports of damage caused by the quakes have been made to an official government institute set up to process claims and over €1.15 billion has been allocated to home owners and others to pay for damage.

The most recent serious quake, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, took place on Saturday night in Wirdum and has led to over 1,100 new claims for damages so far.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation