Minister Eric Wiebes is expected to announce plans for how the Netherlands can wean themselves off the natural gas from the Slochteren gas field.
UPDATE: 8:05 p.m., Thursday, March 30
According to prime minister Mark Rutte and minister of economics Eric Wiebes, gas extraction in Groningen should be a thing of the past by 2030.
The gas extraction levels will be gradually reduced: by 2022, production levels should be down to 12 million cubic meters, and by 2030, down to zero. Extraction and processing activities may be scaled back even more rapidly.
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that Wiebes’ plan marks a serious shift in the course of modern Dutch history. Since the ‘50s, gas from the Slochteren field has added 300 billion euros to Dutch coffers. Groningen has paid for that wealth with its safety and health, and the end of the golden age of gas seems to be in sight.
Wiebes’ plans project that gas production levels can only be brought down to 12 billion cubic meters per year in 2023. That amount should largely guarantee that induced quakes will no longer occur.
The plan identifies two ways to replace Groningen gas with other sources: increasing operations at a nitrogen plant in Zuidbroek in order to process more Russian and Nordic gas, and getting companies that rely heavily on Groningen-produced gas to switch to foreign sources or make their operations more sustainable. Both of these measures would come into effect in 2022 at the earliest.