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Dutch Senate Puts Off Vote to Shut Groningen Gas Field for Good

The Dutch Senate has delayed a vote on the permanent closure of the Groningen gas field, which is set for October 1 due to earthquakes in the area, as several parties have asked for guarantees that the shutdown would not threaten the country’s energy security.   

The Groningen gas field was planned to be turned off on October 1, 2023, and permanently closed this coming October, the government of the Netherlands said last summer. The fields were expected to remain in operational status for another year just in case the country finds itself on the energy backfoot with an exceptionally cold winter 2023/2024.

For some time in January 2024, the field was indeed needed and the Netherlands turned on two sites at Groningen to extract minimal amounts of natural gas, as a deep freeze was moving into northwest Europe at the start of the year, boosting demand for space heating and electricity. At the time, the government told the Parliament that two gas sites at the Groningen fields would be turned on a so-called “pilot light” – minimal gas production – for around two weeks.

Now the government is looking to keep the October 1, 2024 deadline to shut down the field permanently, but the Senate is delaying a vote on a proposed law to do so. This could potentially delay the official permanent closure of the Groningen gas field by around a year and a half.

“This could delay the final decision by a year and a half, which makes me angry,” Hans Vijlbrief, mining state secretary, told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, as carried by Reuters.

Vijlbrief said that the security of supply in the Netherlands would only be threatened in case of two consecutive very cold winters, the chances of which are slim and estimated at around 1 to 80,000.

“I trust there is a misunderstanding and that we will see a final Senate decision soon,” Vijlbrief told Parliament.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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