Groningen gas extraction twice as high as expected this year; MP's furious
Almost twice as much gas as expected will likely be extracted from the Groningen gas field this "gas year" (October 2021 to September 2022). The Ministry of Economic Affairs initially assumed 3.9 billion cubic meters, but due to circumstances, the extraction will amount to a maximum of 7.6 billion cubic meters, according to calculations by grid operator GTS. Parties in the lower house of Dutch parliament are furious that the Groningen gas tap will open further in 2022.
Before April 1, the new Cabinet will determine how much gas will definitively be extracted from the Groningen field in the last gas year that extraction will happen. According to the Ministry, the phasing out is still on schedule: if there are no unexpectedly severe winters, the gas tap can officially close by mid-2022. The Ministry emphasized that the estimated extraction is still well below the 2018 estimate. At that time, 11.2 billion cubic meters was assumed.
Economic Affairs informed parliament of the much higher than expected gas extraction. One of the reasons is that the nitrogen plant in Zuidbroek is opening later than expected. The factory is needed to convert gas from abroad into gas that can be used by Dutch households (low-calorific). Groningen gas is already low calorific. Germany also indicated that it needs much more gas: 1.1 billion cubic meters extra. Minister Stef Blok of Economic Affairs has "expressed his great concerns" about the high demand from Germany.
Due to the increased extraction, research organization TNO will re-examine the threat and risk analysis of possible earthquakes. Based on this, the State Supervision of Mines will issue advice on the safety risks. Only then will the Cabinet make a final decision.
Parties in parliament were not happy with this news, with the Cabinet especially receiving criticism from the left-wing opposition. For SP leader Lilian Marijnissen, it is clear why many citizens have lost confidence in politics. "Because the government and politicians are not on their side. Because the government is unreliable. Because the government keeps making false promises."
"How is this possible?" asked PvdA MP Henk Nijboer. "The misery in Groningen is enormous." According to Nijboer, Hans Vijlbrief, who will be sworn in as State Secretary for Mining on Monday, "has a lot to explain and must act immediately." The Social Democrat called the decision "unacceptable."
D66 parliamentarian Raoul Boucke (party colleague of Vijlbrief) thinks it is "very painful for the people of Groningen." "Too often, promises have not been fulfilled. The Cabinet must do everything it can to prevent the need for more gas extraction in Groningen," said the MP. He suggested, for example, importing nitrogen to convert gas from abroad into gas that households can use.
"How many weeks old is 'looking after each other' again?" wrote GroenLinks MP Suzanne Kroger jokingly, referring to the title of the recently presented coalition agreement.
MP Pieter Omtzigt called the decision a "nasty setback." He noted that the letter from the Cabinet "does not even talk about the consequences for Groningen, damage, etc."
Reporting by ANP.