senators approve the definitive closing of the valves of the largest natural gas field in Europe

The Dutch Senate has approved the permanent closure of the valves at the Groningen natural gas field (North), the largest in Europe. Its exploitation was the cause of earthquakes which shook local residents for decades. The tap will be permanently cut off on 1er October 2024, one year after the end of exploitation of the deposit and after years of political struggle.

“The government thus wishes to provide more clarity and certainty regarding the definitive end of gas extraction”, declared the Upper Chamber in a press release on Tuesday evening. Since October, the authorities have maintained operational extraction units in the event of winter ” very rigorous “against a backdrop of persistent geopolitical tensions.

The deposit had been exploited since 1963, but for more than twenty years the population has suffered earthquakes of low magnitude but close to the surface, due to vacuum pockets formed during gas extraction, which caused numerous damages.

After rejoicing in 2018 at the announced closure of the deposit, local residents became disillusioned with warnings from experts that earthquakes could continue for years. Many of them also found themselves in a legal and technical quagmire relating to compensation.

A “historic moment”

And if gas extraction has gradually been reduced almost to nothing, The Hague decided in 2022 to postpone the closing of the valves due to global energy uncertainties largely caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine . “A debt of honor must be paid to the population of Groningen, first of all by speeding up the reinforcement of buildings and the settlement of the damage”declared the Senate.

A residents’ campaign group, the Groningen Bodem Beweging (GBB), called the law “historical moment”saying to himself “happy and relieved”even if the decision is “bittersweet”.

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Critics of the decision have expressed concerns about the security of gas supplies to the Netherlands, particularly given the uncertainties caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The World with AFP

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