The gas field in Groningen has been a source of debate and frustration in the Netherlands for years.
So, when the expected closure of the field was announced for mid-2022, environmentalists and Groningers took a collective sigh of relief.
Nevertheless, the Groningen plant still has one last gas year (October 2021-September 2022) to run through — and turns out it won’t be a neat closing act.
Dutch government to extract almost twice as much gas
Despite the original plans to extract 3.9 billion cubic metres of gas this year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has informed that they now expect 7.6 billion cubic metres to be extracted before September 2022, writes NU.nl. 🙃
The reason for this jump is two-fold:
Firstly, the opening of a nitrogen plant in Zuidbroek is delayed. The plant was supposed to supplement the supply of low-calorific gas for Dutch households but now the mining in Groningen must cover the shortage.
Secondly, the Netherlands is covering Germany’s bottom. Demand from Germany has risen sharply as the country has decreased their own extraction of gas — all the while energy-saving measures there have proved less efficient than expected.
According to NU.nl, the outgoing Minister of Economic Affairs, Stef Blok, has “expressed his great concerns” about the high demand from Germany.
What about the earthquakes?
In recent years, the severity and frequency of earthquakes in the region around the extraction plant have increased.
While the Ministry of Economic Affairs says “It was previously calculated by TNO that extracting 7.5 billion cubic meters of gas has little or no effect,” the engineering firm has been asked to perform a new seismic threat and risk analysis for Groningen.
Based on these new risk calculations, the Ministry of Economic Affairs will make the final decision about how much gas to extract in Groningen by April 1.
Opening is “incomprehensible”
However, the Groninger Soil Movement (GBB) which defends the interest of people affected by the gas extraction, says “The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate is playing with the safety of Groningers.”
The movement emphasises the dangerous and costly effects of gas extraction for residents and calls an increase in extraction “incomprehensible.”
“The increase in gas extraction means that the unsafe situation in Groningen will continue even longer, especially with a lagging reinforcement operation. In addition, it remains a guess when the gas tap will be turned off for good – people in Groningen live in uncertainty and are worried about their future,” the GBB writes in a statement.
What do you think of the potential increase in gas extraction? Tell us in the comments below!