Giant Dutch Gasfield 'Will not be Turned back on': Minister
The giant Groningen onshore gas field will close permanently mid-2022, the Dutch industry and climate minister Eric Wiebes told a press briefing September 23. He said gas production had to be safe and Groningen production was not safe: "Let me be very clear on that." Previously the government has left open the possibility of reopening Groningen in the event of very cold weather.
Future gas production will come from the small fields but their yield is falling. The government is limiting the financial damage from imports of gas by refusing gas connections for new housing, and a process of finding alternative methods for heating 1.5mn homes by 2030 is under way.
Wiebes said the closure decision would have a cost, both financially and in terms of energy supply security: from importing less than 30% of its energy needs in 2013, the country now imports 70% and that is with Groningen still producing. The Dutch mining authority has said that up to 12bn m³/yr may be safely produced. Beyond that amount, there is a risk of tremors loosening the structure of buildings on or near the field. The government and the field operator NAM have had to pay the owners compensation.
The question, submitted online, was not fully read out, but NGW had asked whether sustained high gas prices, or the need for a low cost source of methane as feedstock for hydrogen, might force a rethink of government policy. Hydrogen, preferably produced by electrolysis, is a part of the government's plan to cut emissions although Wiebes said there were concerns that subsidies for this should be limited.
Wiebes was co-hosting the launch of the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s five-year health-check of Dutch energy policy, for which the IEA boss Fatih Birol had little but praise, noting the 2019 Climate Agreement.
He did suggest something the Dutch might need to do, in the interests of national energy security and grid resilience: extend the life of its nuclear plants. Wiebes said that there was growing parliamentary support for this. as after 2030 the grid would be carrying a lot more intermittent generation.