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    Ministry Aims to Trim Groningen Further in Oct


The Dutch economy ministry wants to cut the gas output faster than planned.

by: William Powell

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Ministry Aims to Trim Groningen Further in Oct

The Dutch economy ministry is seeking to trim another 3.1bn m³ from Groningen output in the 2019-2020 gas year, a spokesman told NGW June 18. But he said this is only a continuation of the policy set in March 2018 when it declared a goal of zero output by no later than 2030. There had been a tremor in late May related to gas production from the field but this was not behind the announcement, the spokesman said. "We are always looking at ways to decrease production faster," he said.

The goal is still to produce 15.9bn m³ from October 1 to September 30, but by pulling on all the levers at its disposal, it could be possible to reduce this by 3.1bn m³ to 12.8bn m³, he said. These measures include creating more nitrogen-rich gas, or pseudo-Groningen gas; a new delivery route into Germany; and injecting more pseudo-Groningen gas into the dedicated low-calorie Noorg storage facility. However, it will not be known until October 1 if that new target is achievable.

Another lever is the sales contract with Italian Eni, which buys gas for its customers in northwest Europe. It is contesting its take-or-pay contract with Dutch marketer GasTerra, which is half owned by the government, but these negotiations are confidential. Cutting the volume to be delivered might already be factored in to the output calculations.

The Dutch mining supervisory body (SODM) says that below 12bn m³ is the target to aim for safe production but that is not going to be achieved this gas year, but next; and when a major new nitrogen facility comes on stream in a few years, that will enable production to drop to just 4bn m³ in the October 2021 gas year. 

Revenues from producing more Groningen gas would help pay for the costly energy transition, but the spokesman said that the social problems associated with the damage done to housing could not be ignored and that there had been a reduction in the earthquakes accompanying the reduction in output, suggesting a link. He said: "Every time there is a new earthquake there is a lot of emotion and that gives extra urgency to find new possibilities, we need to keep searching, It always takes too long to get the damage paid for."