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    NAM Against Using Groningen as Back-up in 2022


Groningen can only serve as a back-up for gas supply if its production is maintained at a certain, low level.

by: Joseph Murphy

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NAM Against Using Groningen as Back-up in 2022

The Dutch NAM joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil is against using the Groningen gas field as a back-up source of supply in 2022, describing it as "undesirable and unnecessary," it said.

The Dutch government had asked NAM to keep the field available in the event of a cold snap. But NAM has called on the government to rethink this plan. Groningen can only serve as a back-up if production is maintained at a minimum level of between 2.4 and 5.8bn m3/yr, the joint venture said.

Groningen started up in the early 1960s and produced around 100bn m3/yr during its first decade of operation. But production activities were found to be causing tremors, prompting the government in 2014 to order NAM to start reducing the field's output. In 2018 the operator was told to halt extraction completely by 2030, but the government later brought forward this deadline to 2022.

Groningen's output is capped at 9.3bn m3 in the gas year starting October 1 2020, down from 11.8bn m3 in the current year.

The joint venture said alternative solutions for security of supply existed, without the use of Groningen. These solutions lie in way "in which the relevant EU standards are interpreted by the Dutch state," it said. This will include LNG imports as well as other Dutch production and pipeline gas from Norway and Russia.

Strict rules on onshore nitrogen deposition were put in place last year after a top court ruled that Dutch rules for issuing building and farming permits were in breach of EU laws on nitrogen oxide emissions. North Sea gas producers complain that this has brought many projects to a standstill, jeopardising continued domestic gas supply.