Gas extraction in Groningen not too high this year: Council of State
The government did not allow excessive gas extraction in Groningen this year, the Council of State ruled in a case brought by the Groninger Bodem Beweging and several residents. The plaintiffs felt that the Cabinet was extracting too much gas from the Groningerveld, but the country’s highest administrative court disagreed.
The government initially planned to extract up to 3.9 billion cubic meters of gas in the “gas year” that runs from October 2021 to September 2022. The Groninger Bodem Beweging was already unhappy with this amount, calling it too high. Then in April, the Cabinet increased the maximum to 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas. The target applies at an average temperature.
The government increased the permitted amount of gas from the Groningerveld in April because the construction of a nitrogen plant in Zuidbroek was delayed, among other reasons. This installation would convert foreign gas from, for example, Norway to make it usable to Dutch households and companies. As a result, less gas from Groningen would be needed in the long run. The German demand for Groningen gas also turned out to be higher than previously expected.
According to the Council of State, State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief (Mining) found the right balance between the Groningen people’s interest in ending gas extraction and the interests of companies and households getting sufficient gas.
The government is in the process of reducing gas extraction in Groningen to zero in 2023 or 2024 because of the earthquakes it causes. The Council of States notes that opinions - also among scientists - differ about the number of buildings that need to be reinforced for safety reasons. According to the Council of State, State Secretary Vijlbrief took sufficient account of this by including all structures that may not meet the safety standard in the reinforcement program.
According to the administrative court, the problems with the reinforcement program are not so big that the maximum gas extraction must be lowered. “The majority of claims for compensation of physical damage to buildings are handled within the target period of six months,” the Council of State explained. “The fact that this does not succeed in all cases does not mean that the claims settlement process is so slow that the State Secretary should make a different decision about the level of gas extraction.”
Reporting by ANP