The Netherlands wants to be less dependent on Russian gas. At the same time the government wants to make sure that the Netherlands will still have enough energy in the future.
The war’s effect on our energy supply
Russia’s war with Ukraine is having an impact on energy supplies in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has enough gas to get through the next winter season and the next few months after that. However, the uncertainty about the war is already causing a sharp increase in oil and gas prices.
The Russian government makes a lot of money by selling gas to the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. This is far from ideal, but at present, parts of Europe (including the Netherlands) cannot yet do without Russian gas. The government therefore wants to help the Netherlands get to a point where it no longer needs it.
The Netherlands and Europe are trying to become independent of Russian gas in a number of ways.
To be well prepared for next winter, the Netherlands will ensure that its gas reserves are well stocked. And that more liquefied gas (LNG) can be imported from other countries.
The Netherlands and Europe will reduce their energy use and speed up their transition to sustainable sources of energy. For example, by insulating more homes, increasing the use of green gas and hydrogen, and installing additional wind turbines in the North Sea.
Most of the natural gas we use in the Netherlands comes from the smaller gas fields in this country or through gas pipelines from other countries. Due to the high price of gas, gas-producing countries like Norway are already at maximum production levels. So it is not really possible to import more from those countries.
Gas is also transported to the Netherlands and the rest of Europe in liquid form (LNG) in special ships. LNG terminals are needed to the liquid gas from these ships into pipelines. The terminal in Rotterdam is already at near-maximum capacity. Various options are being explored for rapidly increasing import capacity there. The Dutch government is also looking into using a floating terminal in Eemshaven. In addition, the Netherlands is working with Germany on a new LNG terminal in Hamburg.
To fight climate change the Netherlands has been working for some time now to phase out oil and gas and make the transition to other forms of energy like green gas, hydrogen and offshore wind power. The Netherlands and the rest of Europe are now taking further steps to speed up this process and lessen their dependence on Russian gas. In making this happen, the government is paying close attention to factors like supply security, affordability and sustainability.
If there are signs of a gas shortage, an emergency plan will go into effect. The purpose of this plan is to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of gas for as long as possible. Certain users, such as households and hospitals, will receive extra protection.
In the face of a real gas crisis the government will first urge national and local authorities, businesses and households to reduce their energy use. The government will make a similar request to neighbouring countries.
At a certain point it may be necessary to cut off the biggest industrial consumers in order to safeguard deliveries to households and hospitals. In addition the Netherlands may ask neighbouring countries for emergency assistance. The exact nature of the government response will depend greatly on the situation in question.
The Netherlands and Europe have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia. These sanctions also have an impact on our country and on the rest of Europe. Abruptly stopping our use of Russian energy would have an enormous impact on energy supplies in the Netherlands and Europe. We are still too dependent on oil and gas from Russia. The Netherlands and Europe want to be in a position where they no longer need oil and gas from Russia. But this is not a change that can be made overnight.
Relying more on coal-fired power plants is not a good option because of the amount of CO2 they emit. The Netherlands would also need more coal in that situation. And almost half of our coal currently still comes from Russia.
But if the Netherlands does find itself in a situation in which there is not enough gas, the government may need to rethink this. In that case, the use of coal-fired plants may be necessary in order to ensure a steady power supply. This would be a temporary solution because coal-fired plants emit large amounts of CO2 and for that reason are not good for the climate.
No. The Netherlands only extracts gas if it can be done safely and responsibly. And extracting more gas from the fields in the province of Groningen is not safe. This should be considered only as a last resort, if, for example, gas deliveries to an entire region (including households and hospitals) are at risk. The government would only consider extracting more gas in Groningen if that would help prevent such a situation.
If Russia stops gas deliveries, the Netherlands is able to deal with the consequences. We have enough gas reserves to take us through the short term. The Netherlands also imports enough gas, including liquid gas, from other countries. There will be sharp price increases, however. In the summer months the gas reserves will have to be re-filled for the following winter period. If Russia stops its gas deliveries, that will be much more difficult.
The Netherlands and Europe want to be independent from Russian gas as soon as possible. This year Europe is already using less gas from Russia. As of January 2022 around a quarter of the gas used in Europe comes from Russia. In previous years, that figure was 40%.
The Netherlands is consulting with other European countries about possible measures to speed up this process. For example, rules will be introduced requiring that all European gas reserves be maintained at a certain level. In addition, there will soon be more capacity for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG), in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The accelerated construction of new LNG storage facilities by Gasunie in Germany is a good example of this. Thanks to this project, the Netherlands will be able to import more gas into Europe from other countries.
Finally, the Netherlands and Europe are taking steps to reduce gas use more quickly by focusing on generating renewable energy and investing in sustainability.