Europe’s largest natural gas field is about to be shut down! IEA: European countries will have a harder time next winter

© Reuters. Europe’s largest gas field is about to be shut down! IEA: European countries will have a harder time next winter

Financial Associated Press October 6 (Editor Niu Zhanlin) Beneath the swamps of the Netherlands lies Europe’s largest natural gas reserve, which is seen by Europeans suffering from the energy crisis as a source of hope in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Light. However, according to the latest developments, the increase in natural gas production in the Netherlands cannot be counted on.

It is reported that the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands has enough untapped production capacity to fill the natural gas gap caused by Russia’s supply cuts. But the Netherlands has rejected calls from the European Union to increase production and is instead closing the Groningen field even as Europe braces for what could be its toughest winter since World War II.

Since 1963, Groningen has been a mainstay of European gas supply. Even half a century later, there are still about 450 billion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas reserves, which are worth about $1 trillion.

What’s more, according to Shell, one of the two partners involved in operating the project, Groningen could extract about 50 billion cubic meters more per year than it currently does. Shell estimates that the flow of gas that could be boosted immediately would be enough to replace the 46 billion cubic meters of gas Germany imported from Russia last year.

But the field is being shut down as Dutch officials are reluctant to risk a backlash from residents as drilling has triggered numerous earthquakes, causing massive economic losses to local residents and a major safety hazard.

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Locals say the continent needs to look elsewhere for gas. Because since 1986, Groningen has detected hundreds of earthquakes. At least 127,000 of the roughly 327,000 homes in the area reported some degree of damage, the data showed.

According to Dutch broadcaster NOS, more than 3,300 buildings have been demolished in the area since 2012 as earthquakes made them unsafe. Beginning in 2014, the Dutch government imposed increasingly stringent limits on the field’s output, with production falling from 54 billion cubic meters in 2013 to an estimated 4.5 billion cubic meters this year.

Dutch officials have said that if Germany needs more energy, the safer option is to further extend the life of its nuclear power plants. Dutch Prime Minister Rutte did not completely rule out the use of Groningen to boost supply, but only in extreme cases where everything goes wrong, saying there is no need to increase production, at least for now.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a recent speech that the Netherlands should reconsider its decision to close Groningen. The Dutch government has also come under pressure from other EU countries, but the Netherlands is sticking to the decision.

Shell spokesman Tim Kezer said that Shell is fully cooperating with the authorities to close the Groningen gas field as soon as possible, and is fully aware of its responsibility and will compensate local residents financially.

Germany did not ask for an increase in production

On Tuesday (October 4), German Chancellor Scholz met with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Rutte in Berlin. At a news conference after the talks, Scholz said current energy prices in Germany need to be lowered, and he called for unified action to combat speculation in the natural gas market. He stressed that energy security must be protected.

Scholz said the priority is to ensure energy security. In terms of energy supply, Germany has taken measures such as restarting coal-fired power plants, extending the use of nuclear power, and diversifying sources of natural gas imports, but energy prices must be considered to ensure energy affordability. Therefore, Germany must accelerate the development of renewable energy.

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Rutte said that Germany has not asked the Groningen gas field to increase production, we have natural gas pipelines from the Netherlands to Germany, and these pipelines are fully utilized.

Rutte pointed out that the energy cooperation between the Netherlands and Germany has been particularly close in the past year, and the two sides will continue to cooperate deeply on energy transition and energy security in the future.

In May, the Dutch government pledged that Germany could get more LNG through LNG terminals in the Netherlands to make up for shortfalls in gas supplies from Russia.

IEA: European countries will have a harder time next winter

At present, although many European countries have indicated that they have stored enough natural gas for the winter, International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol said in an interview with the media in Helsinki, the capital of Finland on Wednesday, that even if the winter can be successfully passed this year, if the situation Without change, European countries will have a harder time next winter.

After a winter of gas depletion, European countries are expected to deplete gas reserves to 25% to 30% of their inventories by February-March 2023, Birol said. At that time, if the natural gas supply in Europe is still not effectively solved, next winter will be more difficult, and European countries will face a more severe energy situation and need to prepare as soon as possible.

“I want European countries to be more flexible and quicker in their response,” he told reporters. “This winter was tough, but next winter may be even tougher.”

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On the same day, European Commission President von der Leyen pointed out that Russia’s pipeline gas supply to the EU has dropped from 40% to 7.5%, and EU gas storage is currently at 90%, compared with 75% in the same period last year.

Italy can face this winter with confidence, but there are still potential uncertainties related to weather and unexpected problems related to gas infrastructure, the CEO of Italian oil company Eni said.

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