As Russia continues its brutal aggression against Ukraine, sparking fears of major disruptions in the European and global energy landscape, governments and energy experts across Europe scramble to devise strategies to cope with the risks of Russian gas imports suddenly coming to a halt. Just two weeks after the invasion, the EU Commission issued a call to phase out energy imports from an increasingly poisonous Russia before 2030. One solution, which is routinely offered, is to continue – and possibly ramp up – the extraction in Groningen, Europe’s biggest gas field.
Last month, engineering professor at Eindhoven University of Technology David Smeulders called on the cabinet to boost the amount of gas pumped from Groningen and compensate the residents, whose homes had been affected by earthquakes, more generously. According to some estimates, gas drilling activities in northern Netherlands have caused over a thousand earthquakes since 1963, damaging family homes, farms, businesses and architectural landmarks.
While an increase in production from the Groningen gas field is technically feasible, it is fraught with political, legal and financial difficulties that make it difficult to implement. That may be one of the reasons why the Dutch government is still on track to shut down the extraction in 2023. But public opinion seems to be changing.
A poll conducted last month by Enigma Research showed that over half of Groningen residents, even those who live in the earthquake-prone zone, are in favor of ramping up gas production in the province. The Netherlands gets around 17bn cubic meters a year or 15% of its gas from Russia. 83% of respondents said that the country should stop buying gas from Russia to put an end to its dependence from the East European country. Almost two in three (61%) supported the idea of turning on the Groningen gas tap to the maximum.
We’d like you to weigh in on that idea in a poll below, and let us know what you think.