Wednesday, 17 April 2013 - 09:04
Shale Gas in the Netherlands
Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs has put the potential importance of shale gas for the Netherlands into perspective. The production is expected to be at most a few percent of the current conventional natural gas production. The House wants, as soon as possible, a debate with Kamp about the research he wants to conduct on shale gas. "Shale gas flows much less," says Kamp in an interview with the Volkskrant. He tempers with that remark the high expectations that some parties have of shale gas. In particular, the Dutch business community looks enviously at the "industrial renaissance" in the United States, where energy-intensive companies can work much cheaper because of the extraction of shale gas. Kamp estimates that each year between 2 and 4 billion cubic meters of shale gas can be produced out of the Dutch soil. That is only 5 percent of what is now produced in Slochteren and other gas fields. The revenue for the treasury would be a few hundred million euros per year. In 2011, natural gas earned the government more than 12 billion euro. Kamp mentions two major differences with the production of conventional gas, because the layer from which shale gas is extracted is more compact and hence the gas flows less. "For shale gas you need more wells and therefore more drilling rigs. This you have to keep in mind in a densely populated country. In addition, the extraction technique is different and has a potential risk of environmental pollution." Last week the Utrecht water company Vitens warned about the effects of shale gas production. While drilling for shale gas, you have to pierce drinking water supplies. Brabant Water previously made a list of precautions which have to be taken care of. On the other hand, Kamp is also not against shale gas. He anticipates that there may be fractions of shale gas that may be interesting for the petrochemical industry. Municipalities who claim upfront that they will not allow shale gas production, he thinks, are too quick with their decision. "I have never been impressed if someone says clearly ‘no or yes’ prior to research results. That does not convince me."