Gas extraction operations in the province of Groningen may be phased out ahead of schedule.
Translation by Traci White
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that minister of economic affairs Eric Wiebes says that by 2020, it should be possible to bring gas extraction levels down to 12 billion cubic meters per year. That amount has been cited as the level at which natural gas can be safely extracted while limiting the likelihood of induced earthquakes.
The Dutch State Supervision of Mines wants production levels to be scaled back to 12 billion by 2022, but Wiebes believes that it will be possible to reduce production long before that deadline. In a letter addressed to the Dutch parliament in the lead up to a new gas debate on Thursday, Wiebes stated that progress made over the past few months is a promising sign.
Wiebes pointed out that demand for Groningen gas from Germany has declined due to the retrofitting of a power plant, and the minister also wants to buy more nitrogen which can be used to make gas from foreign markets suitable for the Dutch network. A new nitrogen plant is scheduled to be built in Zuidbroek.
Wiebes went on to state that large-scale industrial users of Groningen gas are being pushed to transition to other energy sources: he wrote that many companies are prepared to take that step, but added that he would consider legal or financial measures if they fail to comply.
The parliament will host a debate on Thursday about the gas extractions, which will include discussion of why Hans Alders stepped down as the National Coordinator Groningen and why repairs to nearly 1,6000 homes in the province are being delayed. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that several busses full of Groningers will travel to The Hague, where the locals intend to protest during the debate.
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