Dutch Gov Approves Nitrogen Plant: Update
(adds announcement of EIB loan)
The Dutch government has signed off on plans for a nitrogen plant that will help prepare the Netherlands for the closure of the giant Groningen gas field, national grid operator Gasunie said on March 9. On the same day the European Investment Bank (EIB) also announced it would provide a €240mn ($273mn) loan to Gasunie to fund the plant's construction.
The Netherlands recently decided to bring forward Groningen's planned shutdown by eight years to 2022. The quake-causing field, which once supplied France, Belgium and Germany with peak winter gas, is set to produce no more than 12bn m3 in the year starting October 1 2019, down from 19.4bn m3 limit in the previous 12 months; and nothing at all from 2022.
Gasunie's Zuidbroek plant will take nitrogen from the air and mix it with high-calorific imported gas, producing the same low-calorific gas as Groningen. This will make the gas suitable for domestic consumption. The plant is due on stream in mid-2022, and will allow for a 7bn m3 reduction in production at Groningen. Gasunie also increased the capacity of its nitrogen mixing facility in Wieringermeer last year, enabling a 5bn m3 decrease in the field's output.
"We are making every possible effort to help bring gas extraction in Groningen to an end more quickly," Gasunie CEO Han Fennema said in a statement. "This plant is a necessary measure that will eliminate the need for gas from the Groningen field in order to guarantee security of supply from 2022 onwards."
US firm Air Products has been hired to build the facility, which will be capable of extracting and mixing 180,000 m3 of nitrogen/hour. A contract for the nitrogen mixing station has been awarded to a joint venture between local companies Visser & Smit Hanab and A. Hak Leidingbouw.