Netherlands May Be a Natural Gas Importer by 2025, IEA Says

Apr 22, 2014 12:10 pm ET

(Updates with IEA comments starting in second paragraph.)

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Netherlands, Europe’s second- largest gas exporter, may become an importer by 2025 as output falls from its Groningen province and progress in unconventional sources stalls, the International Energy Agency said.

“For the Netherlands it is necessary to rethink the future energy mix, especially for after 2025,” Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the adviser to 28 nations, said today at a press conference in The Hague while presenting its review of Dutch energy policy. “The Netherlands will be confronted with price developments worldwide and it is very important to assess all the implications when you become a net importer,” said Van der Hoeven, who was the nation’s minister of economic affairs before becoming IEA chief in 2011.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government was forced to cut gas output from the Slochteren field in Groningen by 21 percent this year to 42.5 billion cubic meters in 2014 and 2015 after earthquakes linked to extraction led to a public backlash. A new production plan for the field, Europe’s largest, will be presented by July 1, 2016.

The Netherlands produces about 80 billion cubic meters of gas a year, about the same as demand in neighboring Germany. The Slochteren field’s remaining resources are estimated at 740 billion cubic meters, while total estimated reserves are 1.23 trillion cubic meters, the IEA said in its report. There are about 235 small fields in production.

Carbon Emissions

The Netherlands is one of the most fossil fuel-intensive economies in the Paris-based IEA and will have challenges in its transition toward secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy, according to the report, which urged the country to step up efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Renewable sources should make up 14 percent of the nation’s energy mix by 2020 and 16 percent by 2023, according to an agreement signed by the government, non-government parties and companies operating in the energy business in September.

“This is very ambitious and the Netherlands has a long way to go to meet those targets while more forceful actions are needed from the government to reduce emissions,” Van der Hoeven said.