Groningen gas extraction further reduced to 30 billion cubic metres in 2015

No more than 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas will be extracted from the Groningen field this year, which is why gas extraction will be limited to 13.5 billion cubic metres in the second half of 2015. The Government made this decision today on the basis of advice given by the State Supervision of Mines (SodM). This agency advised reducing gas extraction to the lowest realistic level, with an upper limit of 16.5 billion cubic metres for the second half of 2015.

Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs states: “The safety of the people of Groningen must come first. We are reducing gas extraction in Groningen as far as feasibly possible at the present time. The Government has therefore decided on a maximum of 30 billion cubic metres in 2015.” Mr Kamp discussed his intention to make this decision with local officials and residents yesterday.

Safety and security of supply

To increase the safety of Groningen residents and in accordance with advice from SodM, the Government previously reduced extraction in the Loppersum area by 80% and suggested imposing a maximum of 42.5 billion cubic metres for 2014. In 2015, gas extraction was then further reduced to a maximum of 39.4 billion cubic metres. The Government subsequently decided to impose a 16.5 billion cubic metre limit for the first six months of 2015.

SodM has now recommended that gas extraction in the second half of 2015 should again not exceed 16.5 billion cubic metres – which would mean a grand total of 33 billion cubic metres of natural gas extracted this year. This is the minimum level required for security of supply. In the Netherlands, 7 million households depend on natural gas from Groningen for cooking and to heat their homes. There are also households in Belgium, France and Germany that depend on Groningen gas.

For one time only the Government has the option to withdraw 3 billion cubic metres of gas from storage at Norg, because this facility was not operational for some time last year. By exercising this option, extraction from the Groningen field can remain limited to 30 billion cubic metres in 2015. The Government also reserves the option to extract up to an additional 2 billion cubic metres should this prove absolutely necessary as a result of technical problems in the gas supply system.

Another approach to gas extraction

Before 1 January 2016, the Government will look into other approaches to gas extraction, and the possibility of increasing natural gas imports. This would lead to a further reduction in extractions from the Groningen field, but an increase in the Netherlands’ dependence on imports. SodM is also currently studying pronounced fluctuations in the amount of gas extracted as a result of temperature differences over the years and their impact on safety. In addition, researchers are examining methods for ensuring steady and safe levels of natural gas extraction.