Gas production in Groningen stopped after 60 years
The gas tap in Groningen was closed at 6 a.m. on Sunday at the office of theDutch Petroleum Company (NAM), reports an ANP photographer on the scene. This marks the end of gas extraction in the northern province after 60 years.
The decision to stop gas production was made because of the risk of earthquakes and the suffering of the residents. However, in exceptional cases, the tap may be reopened next year. For many in Groningen, this is no cause for celebration.
The State Secretary for Mining, Hans Vijlbrief, like the province and other Groningen authorities and stakeholders, would have preferred the wells to be closed now. But in the event of a very cold winter or other unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to resume production. For this reason, the government has decided not to shut down the gas wells permanently until October 1, 2024.
For Groningen “gas representative” Susan Top and the Groningen Bodem Beweging, this was a disappointment. They expect a lot of unrest if gas has to be produced again after all. Vijlbrief understands this but says that many Groningen residents can live with the decision the government has made.
According to Groningen authorities, the closure of the Groningen field will not result in an end to earthquakes, and therefore damage to buildings will persist.
However, the government concluded that a "debt of honor" must be paid to the region. Shell and ExxonMobil also acknowledged that the earthquakes have placed a heavy burden on the people living above the gas field. Therefore, billions of euros will go to the earthquake area in the coming decades to repair damage, reinforce buildings, and improve living conditions. Deputy Top, former secretary of the Groninger Gasberaad, sees opportunities to do something about the "misery that affects a large part of the population".
Last week, Vijlbrief signed the bill that regulates the final closure of gas production sites on Oct. 1, 2024. If the lower house of parliament approves the bill as expected, the decision will be final.
Reporting by ANP