1600 Erdbeben: Niederlande schließen Europas größtes Gasfeld in Provinz Groningen
The Netherlands has stopped the extraction from the largest gas field in Europe. According to authorities, production in the field located in the province of Groningen, which has been plagued by earthquakes for years, was terminated on Sunday. However, eleven wells from the site opened in the 1960s will be kept open for another year in case of a „harsh winter“. Despite the closure, experts warn that earthquakes in the region could continue.
The underground gas fields in the northern part of the Netherlands are the largest reserves in Europe. For more than two decades, residents have been complaining about earthquakes directly linked to the exploitation of these reserves. In recent years, gas production has been reduced as a result: in 2021, only 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas were extracted in Groningen, compared to over 20 billion cubic meters in previous years.
By 2022, the gas production was supposed to be completely halted. However, due to the global energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government announced last autumn that 2.8 billion cubic meters of gas should be extracted again – the minimum amount required to operate the existing sites and infrastructure.
Ein im Februar veröffentlichter Bericht eines parlamentarischen Untersuchungsausschusses warf den niederländischen Behörden vor, bei der erfolgreichen Förderung »kaum auf die langfristigen Risiken geachtet« zu haben. Die Parlamentarier forderten die Regierung zum Handeln auf.
In June, the government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte made the decision to completely halt production by October 1st. The government stated that due to the uncertain international situation, it would still be possible to extract gas at the location in very exceptional circumstances, such as severe cold or gas shortages, for another year. By October 2024, the remaining eleven drilling holes would be permanently closed.
Reparaturarbeiten an Häusern im Ort Loppersum in der Provinz Groningen
Foto: ANP / IMAGO
Shell Netherlands and ExxonMobil are both equally involved in the NAM corporation, which has been responsible for exploiting the Groningen gas field since the 1960s. A Shell executive also stated in March that the government must close the field.
According to Shell, a total of approximately 2.3 billion cubic meters were extracted from the deposit. Between 1963 and 2020, around 429 billion euros were generated from Groningen gas. 85 percent of these profits went into the Dutch state treasury. Germany was one of the main consumers of this field for many years.
Since 1986, there have been approximately 1600 earthquakes due to gas production in Groningen. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged, and around one hundred thousand people were affected. Although the earthquakes caused significant damage to the houses in the area, the residents have reportedly received only minimal compensation according to a parliamentary report. Consequently, the affected individuals find themselves trapped in a web of bureaucratic obstacles and incompetence.