Dutch Government: No Test Drills for Shale Gas in the Near Future
A nationwide research study on all possible shale gas test drill locations in the Netherlands needs to bring a better view on where the most appropriate locations are. This study could take one year to eighteen months. The Dutch government will not make a decision on the matter until the study is completed.
Dutch minister of economic affairs Henk Kamp (VVD) sees the research as a tool to inform local authorities and inhabitants and to involve them in the exploration and possible exploitation of shale gas. Locations that already were mentioned in existing projects for test drills will be included in the study.
"'Until now, possible test drill locations were indicated only by companies applying for drill licenses," Kamp says. "I want to form an opinion about all locations in the Netherlands where shale gas test drills are possible. Afterwards, locations with the highest success chance and the smallest security risks can be focussed."
The study will provide insight into the effects to be expected concerning environment and landscape. Kamp will use the time needed to complete the study to investigate, in collaboration with drinking water companies, the mining sector and the governmental mining supervision administration, in what way drilling techniques can be optimized to clear away possible risks in contamination of underground and surface waters.
Before the study is finalized, the Dutch government will not handle any applications for shale gas exploration. For areas where exploration permissions were already awarded, an agreement will state that companies will not proceed until the nationwide study has been completed.
Population enquiry and environmental commission warning
A few weeks ago Kamp minimised the risks. In a letter to the Parliament, Kamp referred to a recent study report made up by the Witteveen & Bos agency, ordered by the government, which favors shale gas exploration. But he also anticipated, by less than a day, a very cautionary report of the Commission for Environmental Assessment. He also carefully read another government ordered report, a very recent enquiry made the Veldkamp agency. From August 27 to September 2, Veldkamp organized a representative survey of the Dutch 18+ population and of Haaren, Boxtel and the Noordoostpolder, which at the moment are the most mentioned test drill locations.
Veldkamp found out that 75% of the Dutch population know the results of Witteveen & Bos report. In the three mentioned locations, this number augments to 90%. Nationwide, approximately 30% see the report as inaccurate. In Haaren, Boxtel and the Noordoostpolder 50% of the inhabitants share this opinion. 40% of the Dutch population is against shale gas exploitation, 40% is neutral and 20% is positive about it. In Haaren and Boxtel, 70% do not want shale gas exploitation. In the Noordoostpolder this number is 55%. Nationwide, about sixty municipalities declared themselves 'shale gas free.' However Kamp states that he didn't change his opinion under political pressure –PVDA, his social-democrat coalition partner that is against or local protests.