Finance

Why should the Netherlands pump more gas for Germany?

Instead of 3.9 billion cubic meters (cubic meter) of gas, the cabinet wants to pump up a maximum of 7.6 billion cubic meters in 2022 in Groningen. This is partly because there is more demand for Germany.

Before 1 April, it will be announced exactly how much gas will be extracted in Groningen.

contracts

The news that more will be pumped up is causing a lot of controversy. In the area in Groningen where gas is extracted, residents have been suffering from earthquakes for some time, which, among other things, cause cracks in the walls of houses.

Pumping up more gas for Germany does not seem so obvious. But the Netherlands has been supplying natural gas to Germany for a long time and cannot simply stop doing so. “There are still long-term contracts, and we have to keep to commitments,” says Mary-Lou GrĂ©goire, interim spokesperson for Gasunie, which manages and maintains the infrastructure for large-scale transport and storage of gas in the Netherlands and northern Germany.

High and low calorific gas

There are two types of natural gas: high calorific and low calorific. The difference is that low-calorific natural gas contains more nitrogen. That is also the natural gas that is extracted in the Netherlands. High-calorific gas comes from outside the Netherlands.

The natural gas that was supplied to Germany for decades and that German installations were set up for came from Groningen and was therefore low-calorific. The central heating boilers of Dutch consumers and parts of the industry in the Netherlands also run on low-calorific gas.

Convert to high calorific

According to energy expert Jilles van de Beukel, Germany is really doing its best to reduce its dependence on low-calorific gas. “That goes much faster than in the Netherlands, we have no complaints about the cooperation of the Germans,” he says.

It is technically possible to convert installations so that they can handle high-calorific gas. Some of that has already happened in Germany, but some of it has yet to happen.

Demand from German consumers who still use low-calorific gas is now higher than expected. This is partly because energy savings are currently yielding even less than had been calculated.

Nitrogen factory

Part of the gas that the Netherlands now supplies to Germany is still produced in our country, as in past decades.

We first import another part that we now supply to Germany. This is high-calorific gas. Nitrogen is then added to this, so that it becomes low-calorific gas, and it is then exported to, among others, Germany, says Van de Beukel.

Factory ready later

Such a new factory is now being built in Zuidbroek, Groningen, where nitrogen can be added to imported high-calorific gas, so that it becomes low-calorific. The problem is that the construction of that factory has been delayed. As a result, it will not be ready in the spring, but only in the course of the summer.

As a result, in order to fulfill contracts for delivery to Germany, it is necessary to fall back on the extraction of low-calorific gas in the Groningen field.

Especially more gas for the Netherlands

The fact that more needs to be pumped up there now is due in large part to the fact that we will need it in the Netherlands ourselves in the coming months. In addition, Groningen gas is needed to fill the underground storage in Grijpskerk (on the border of Groningen and Friesland) for next winter, so that we will also be warm in the winter of 2022/2023 in the Netherlands.

For the extra consumption in Germany, Groningen 1.1 billion cubic meters must be brought to the surface. But due to the delay in the construction of the factory in Zuidbroek, an additional 2 billion cubic meters must be pumped up for Dutch use and another 1.6 billion cubic meters to fill the stocks for next winter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates. Economics.

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