No extraction of shale gas during the next five years

No drilling for shale gas will take place in the Netherlands during the current cabinet term. No commercial exploration or extraction of shale gas will take place in the Netherlands over the next five years. Existing licences for exploration activities relating to shale gas will not be renewed.

These announcements were made by Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs, on Friday. The cabinet will decide at the end of the year whether or not it is desirable to keep shale gas as a broad option for the Netherlands in the future.

Research

Since 2013, the cabinet has commissioned various studies on the social effects, the environmental consequences, and the possible costs and returns of shale gas extraction in the Netherlands. As no test bores have taken place so far, it is not yet clear how much shale gas is present, and whether the extraction of shale gas could be profitable.

The studies have demonstrated that there is also great uncertainty regarding the effects of drilling for shale gas deep below the surface of the ground.

For this reason, the political consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of shale gas as part of the future energy mix cannot yet take place. In practice, this means that no commercial exploration activities or commercial extraction of shale gas will take place within the next five years.

Possible exploratory bores to ascertain the presence of shale gas in the ground beneath the Netherlands may take place on the instructions of the Dutch government, but not at the request of companies. Any such exploratory bores will also address the possibilities offered by geothermal energy.

Energy mix

Mr Kamp explained his announcements in further detail. "No answer can be expected to the question of whether it would make sense to further examine the prospect of extracting shale gas until the end of this year. At that point, I will present a vision of energy policy after 2020, based partly on recent insights relating to sustainable energy, the better utilisation of geothermal energy, and gas extraction in the province of Groningen.

"In that vision, I will address the matter of how a responsible, reliable, and affordable supply of energy to Dutch households and businesses can be guaranteed in the future. I will also address the matter of how fossil fuels could best be used in the transition to a sustainable energy supply.”