Dutch Senate Approves Permanent Closure of Groningen Gas Field

The Dutch Senate approves a law to permanently close the Groningen gas field, a major European supplier, due to seismic risks, sparking debate over energy security.

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Dutch Senate Approves Permanent Closure of Groningen Gas Field

Dutch Senate Approves Permanent Closure of Groningen Gas Field

The Dutch Senate has approved a law to permanently close the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands, following the government's promise to limit seismic risks in the region. The gas field, once one of Europe's main suppliers, has been subject to production cuts in recent years due to the seismic activity linked to decades of extraction, which has damaged thousands of buildings.

The new law will leave huge gas reserves in the ground, which has been criticized by some politicians and gas industry advocates who argue it could jeopardize the country's security of supply. The government had proposed closing the field entirely by October 1, 2024. The Senate initially postponed the final vote on the law, but has now approved it.

The gas field is operated by a joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil, who have asked an arbitration court to decide whether the Dutch state should compensate them for the ending of gas production at Groningen. The Groningen field has delivered an estimated 363 billion euros to the Dutch treasury since production started in the 1960s.

The closure of the gas field is a significant step in the Netherlands' efforts to phase out fossil fuel production and transition to renewable energy sources. The move has faced some criticism over concerns about the security of gas supply in the Netherlands, especially given energy uncertainties sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mines minister Hans Vijlbrief stated that the gas taps could be shut off as early as May 1, sooner than the originally planned date of October 1. The decision to close the gas fields sparked fury in the northern province, where local officials accused parliament of backtracking on its promise to end gas drilling, which has triggered over 1,600 earthquakes in the last 40 years and damaged 85,000 buildings. Vijlbrief welcomed the Senate vote, stating that "Groningers finally have the security they deserve".

Key Takeaways

  • Dutch Senate approves law to permanently close Groningen gas field.
  • Closure aims to limit seismic risks, but faces criticism over supply security.
  • Groningen field has delivered 363 billion euros to Dutch treasury since 1960s.
  • Mines minister plans to shut off gas taps as early as May 1, 2024.
  • Closure sparks fury in northern province, but welcomed by government.