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The Dutch government has decided to temporarily extract minimal amounts of natural gas from two sites at the Groningen gas field that was closed last year, as a deep freeze is moving into northwest Europe, boosting demand for space heating and electricity.
The Groningen gas fields would be turned off on October 1, 2023, and permanently close next 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.
After a warm autumn and a mild start to the winter, Europe is now facing the first real cold snap this heating season, with temperatures expected to drop this week below seasonal averages and the freeze to continue in northwest Europe at least until the middle of January.
The Netherlands faces 20 Fahrenheit and lower temperatures on Tuesday, so the government told the Parliament in a letter on Monday that two gas sites at the Groningen fields would be turned on a so-called “pilot light” – minimal gas production – during the cold snap.
According to the Economic Affairs Ministry, the “pilot light” measure is not regular production, and based on current forecasts, it will not be escalated and will be reversed in about two weeks, Reuters reports.
“The extraction is therefore minimal, namely only extraction on the pilot light at two locations for about two days,” Dutch State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief wrote in the letter, as carried by Bloomberg.
At the end of last week, power prices in Finland jumped to record-high levels as the deep freeze in Europe began in the Arctic parts of the Nordic countries and was set to move south to northwest Europe over the weekend and this week, creating additional energy demand and leading to higher electricity and natural gas prices.
By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com
Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com's Head of Operations