The Groningen gas field should be completely shut down as early as this year, the CEO of Shell Netherlands, Marjan van Loon, said in a TV program Sunday.
Large-scale gas extraction in the province has caused numerous tremors leaving thousands of residents with damaged homes and health issues. It is widely believed the earthquakes are the result of the ground settling following the decades of drilling. The future of the Groningen gas field has taken on new importance, however, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the energy prices through the roof. Still, the government should go ahead with the closure despite all the global energy uncertainties, van Loon believes.
“The field must be closed. It can be and has to be done,” the top executive said.
At the moment, the gas field is still supplying small amounts of gas to keep the wells running, but van Loon thinks that is not necessary. “It is, perhaps, uncomfortable to shut down something like this during an energy crisis, but it must be done,” she reiterated.
Van Loon indicated that Shell is committed to paying for damages caused to properties in the province, but “we need to see how best that can be done.”
Shell Netherlands has a 50% stake in the NAM, the company responsible for extracting gas from Groningen since the early 1960s.
A final decision by the cabinet on the gas field’s closure is set to be made in June, but it will “depend on the international situation,” according to the government.
The cabinet has reduced the amount of gas pumped from Groningen to minimize seismic risks. Local residents, who suffered millions of euros in damage to their homes over the years, have lobbied hard for the end to gas extraction to ensure that the main cause of the earthquakes disappears. So far they have received only a trickle of compensation.
Last month, a parliamentary commission accused the Dutch state and energy giants Shell and ExxonMobil of having ignored the long-term risks and adverse effects of drilling on people’s lives.
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