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    GasTerra Sees Sales Dip, Prepares to Wind Down


The Dutch public-private entity is preparing for closure but still keen to promote gas in all its forms as an energy source.

by: William Powell

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GasTerra Sees Sales Dip, Prepares to Wind Down

GasTerra saw its revenue fall by a fifth to €8.8 ($9.6)bn last year thanks to “significantly lower” gas prices than the year before, the Dutch gas marketer said February 14. Sales were down 4bn m³ to 51.5bn m³, the 0.5bn m³ increase at home being more than offset by a 4.5bn m³ drop in exports, which were down to 19.2bn m³. Its profits and dividends are set at €48mn and €36mn respectively.

The planned closure of the Groningen field in 2022 means that GasTerra’s main core activity, the exclusive right to buy and sell Groningen gas, is set to disappear. As a result, GasTerra’s shareholders – the government (50%) and Shell and ExxonMobil (25% each) – concluded last year that the dissolution of GasTerra would eventually be inevitable.

CEO Annie Krist said that uncertainty over the company's future had seen staff find work elsewhere but she said that in the three months that have elapsed since the announcement of the decision, GasTerra had succeeded in reaching agreement with the works’ council on the main lines of the phasing out plan to be developed in more detail in 2020 and with the trade union on the content of the associated social plan.

She said that Dutch energy and climate policy is partly focused on shifting natural gas users to sustainable energy sources as quickly as possible, but the gas sector “has serious question marks about this policy.” She said the costs of the associated "mega-operation are relatively high and counter-productive from the point of view of CO2 reduction and security of supply. The gas sector believes that it would be more rational to make the best use of the existing sophisticated gas network for the urgently needed energy transition."

GasTerra is doing what it can to speed up the introduction of climate-neutral blue and green hydrogen into the energy system and last year it was again the largest buyer of green gas in Netherlands. NGW reported February 13 it had backed a manure-to-methane production project, which will only start operations in 2022, by which point the Groningen field is to be mothballed or possibly closed permanently. GasTerra said it would buy the gas.