“There are people who say that you should open Groningen because that would lead to lower gas prices,” said Rutte. “Well, 40 billion cubic meters of gas is not enough to move gas prices on the spot market,” he refers to the daily rates.
The price of gas has already reached €129.50 per terrawatt hour due to the war in Ukraine and President Putin’s closure of European exports, compared to €15 at the beginning of January 2021.
Russia is cutting European countries off its gas. A dozen countries in Europe have now been affected. The fear is that President Putin will turn off the gas tap completely towards the winter.
European countries are therefore looking for alternatives, such as liquefied gas (LNG). In this way, the Netherlands wants to prevent the Groningen gas field from having to supply more, something the cabinet does not want to do.
For the minister, increasing the production of the Groningen gas field is a last resort for the Netherlands, he emphasized the cabinet position in Brussels.
The Dutch government will not say that it will “never talk about Groningen” to strengthen the stocks, he said. That would only be in an “ultimate situation.” Last week, the Netherlands set the capacity for commercially run coal-fired power stations to full production ‘immediately’, which may take until 2025. That should drastically reduce the use of gas.
Germany, connected to the Netherlands through its gas grid, extended coal production this week in a bid to reduce gas consumption. A large nuclear power plant also runs longer.
With the Groningen field, the Netherlands has by far the largest gas stock in Europe. Since the start of extraction in 1963, it has been a gas source for many European countries.
Rutte said in Brussels that the cessation of gas supply by Russia is not enough reason to increase production on the field. According to the prime minister, the government plans to close the field completely by October 2023, provided the geopolitical situation allows.