Europe’s biggest gas field–Groningen in the north of the Netherlands–has been pumping gas for more than half a century and supplies gas to 98 percent of the Dutch population. But the field has been causing earthquakes that have become a growing concern for residents and authorities.
After years of debates and measures to curb production at the field, the Dutch government decided this week that output at Groningen will be terminated by 2030, with a reduction by two-thirds until 2021-2022 and another cut after that. The authorities have already limited production from the field because of the earthquakes, but now they have decided that the risks and costs are no longer acceptable.
“Safety perception as well as actual safety can only be guaranteed for the near future in Groningen by fully eliminating the source of the earthquake risk. The Dutch Cabinet, therefore, is taking measures for natural gas extraction from this gas field to be reduced to zero, as soon as possible,” the government said, noting that the consequences of natural gas extraction “are no longer socially acceptable.”
“According to Cabinet, ongoing natural gas extraction, combined with massive financial compensation and restoration and reinforcement operations, form an untenable situation,” the Dutch ministers say.
To cope with the new reality of natural gas supply and demand in the country with reduced Groningen gas production and ultimately without Groningen gas at all, the Netherlands is building a nitrogen plant near Zuidbroek that will convert natural gas of a high caloric value into low-calorie natural gas and that will cost US$615 million (500 million euro).
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