The Netherlands will rely on increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports instead of relying on domestic gas production from the Groningen field to help replace Russian imports.

The Dutch government decided not to increase production from Groningen, which was seen as a way for Europe to fill natural gas storage and displace Russian supplies.

“This is the last normal gas year for Groningen,” said Jules van de Ven, spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. “The field will remain available for emergencies from October 2022 with only a minimal flow” of around 1.5 billion cubic meters (Bcm) per year, van de Ven said.

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“We expect to permanently close the field in 2023 or 2024, which means production will be zero and all gas wells will be abandoned and cleaned up,” he told NGI.

Europe has depended on production from Groningen for decades. It was once one of Europe’s largest gas fields, peaking at 88 bcm in 1976. It was producing almost 30 bcm just five years ago.

The field was due to be closed this year after years of earthquakes, but a cold winter depleted Europe’s storage stocks and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled new supply problems.

Difficult decision

A new coalition government has been given the decision of whether to increase gas production from Groningen to help replace Russian gas imports after Dutch citizens were promised the Groningen field would cease gas production , taking into account earthquakes.

Dutch gas network operator NV Nederlandse Gasunie supported the government’s decision. Spokesman Simon den Haak told NGI that media reports suggesting Gasunie urged the government not to close the ground next year were incorrect.

Gasunie advised the government not to “reduce further the technical production capacity of the Groningen field given the current geopolitical situation, but did not advise the government to maximize production at Groningen”.

The company suggested the government postpone the redevelopment of the Grijpskerk storage site for a year because “this would be beneficial for the security of supply without the need to increase production volumes from the Groningen field”, said den Haak.

Grijpskerk is an underground seasonal gas storage site for Groningen production. The Dutch gas company Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij BV intended to close the storage facility at the end of 2021, in line with the drop in production from Groningen. However, the Dutch Ministry of Economy has issued a draft approval for Grijpskerk to now store high calorific gas, rather than low calorific gas from Groningen production.

Gasunie plans to increase the import capacity of the Gate LNG import terminal in Rotterdam from 12 billion m3/year to 16 billion m3/year, said den Haak, reaching an agreement with Exmar for the rental of the floating storage and regasification of 4 to 5 billion m3/year. unity. The ship is expected to start operating by the end of the year at the port of Eemshaven in Groningen.

“Since the Netherlands is only 15% dependent on Russian gas imports, around 5-6 bcm/year, the increased LNG capacity will replace these volumes,” den Haak told NGI. .