The Dutch Senate has passed a law to permanently close the Groningen gas field, marking the end of an era for what was once one of Europe’s major gas suppliers.

The decision aligns with the government’s commitment to prevent further seismic risks associated with gas extraction in the region.

Normal gas production at the Groningen field ceased in October 2023, following a series of production cuts aimed at reducing the seismic activity that has caused extensive damage to buildings over the years.

In June 2023, the Dutch Government announced that the gas wells at the Groningen field will remain open for another year to supply gas to the country in “very exceptional situations” such as severe cold weather or a shortage of gas due to volatile geopolitical situations. 

The newly approved law, which mandates the complete shutdown of the field by 1 October 2024, has been met with criticism from some political quarters and industry representatives, reported Reuters.  

They argue that leaving the substantial gas reserves untapped could compromise the Netherlands’ supply security.

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The Groningen field is operated by NAM, a joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil.

NAM has sought arbitration to determine if the Dutch state owes them compensation for the premature end of gas extraction activities.

Located in the north-eastern Netherlands, the Groningen field has been a major gas provider for much of western Europe since production started in 1963.

Since the 1980s, hundreds of earthquakes in the area have damaged thousands of homes, sparking strong local hostility towards the field.