No extra gas extraction in Groningen to lower gas price: King's Commissioner
Gas supply is becoming a problem, and the gas price is rising rapidly. But extra extraction in Groningen to reduce the price is not an option, Rene Paas, the Commissioner of the King in Groningen, said to Nieuwsuur.
"It would be outrageous if national politicians decided to expose Groningen residents again to the threats that were the reason to stop drilling because of the gas price. After 2022, it is over. Then it will remain open as a pilot light for another one or two years. And then we weld it shut. Groningen gas is history."
The deal was that Groningen would be a pilot light in case of extremely cold winters. Only then more gas can be extracted, Paas said. "Nobody in Groningen wants to leave the Netherlands and themselves in the cold. But if the pilot light is out, it is no longer possible. It is also a matter of respect."
According to Jilles van den Beukel, energy analyst at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, there was no proper risk analysis when the government decided to stop gas drilling in Groningen. "We calculated to the decimal point how the earthquakes will decrease if we extract less, but we did not look closely at gas supply problems," he said to Nieuwsuur.
Van den Beukel suspects that the Ministry of Home Affairs and companies like Shell and ExxonMobil are already talking about more gas extraction in Groningen behind the scenes. "But Shell and Exxon are not looking forward to that at all because they will undeniably have to deal with all kinds of damage problems." He expects more gas to be extracted in Groningen eventually, but there won't be a return to the old quantities. "The social pressure in the Netherlands is too great."
For now, the biggest problem is the rising gas price. The first households already got a higher bill, and some companies are having problems. Caretaker Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra promised parliament that the government would soon present proposals on limiting the price increases. He did not mention Groningen but said that he expects "the Cabinet will have to intervene."
His colleague Stef Blok of Economic Affairs and Climate, on the other hand, clearly stated that Groningen gas extraction is not an option at the moment. "It is absolutely not an option to temporarily extract more gas to keep the gas price down," Blok's Ministry said to Nieuwsuur. "The only exceptions are extremely cold winters or delivery problems."
But that did not reassure Groningen residents. SP parliamentarian Sandra Beckerman, who is from the province, expects that extraction will increase in the province despite the consequences. "We just had five earthquakes in a week. A disaster occurred in my province. That gas tap really needs to be closed," she said to the program.