The decision, announced in a press release on Friday, was initiated by economic affairs minister Henk Kamp and accepted unanimously by the cabinet.
The cabinet said it is not yet clear if drilling for shale gas will be cost-effective. This will only be known later this year following further research into the safety and usefulness of the gas.
If the results of the research show that shale gas is a realistic option, any test drilling will be carried out under the control of the government and not of private companies, the NRC reported.
The five-year moratorium has nothing to do with the situation in Groningen, where gas extraction is being cut back to prevent earthquakes, Kamp said in the statement.
‘The decisions we have made about Groningen have no direct relationship with the decision on shale gas,’ the minister said. ‘The decision about Groningen is based on safety considerations.’
Shale gas is ordinary natural gas that has been trapped in dense shale beds deep underground. It is extracted using a controversial process known as fracking, which involves drilling a hole deep into the shale and pumping in water mixed with sand and chemicals.
A number of local councils, water boards and even brewing groups like Heineken have come out against the production of shale gas in the Netherlands because of the risk of pollution. Haaren and Boxtel in Bra