Dutch Senate postpones decision on Groningen gas field shutdown

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch Senate has postponed a vote on a law that would permanently close the Groningen gas field in the north of the Netherlands, as a majority called for more guarantees on the country’s energy security.

Normal gas production at Groningen ended last October after years of production cuts to limit seismic risks in the region.

The gas field has been available for limited production during a cold snap in recent months, but the government has proposed a law that would close the field entirely by Oct. 1.

That law was backed by the Lower House of parliament last month, but several Senate fractions on Tuesday said they needed more guarantees that the law would not jeopardise the security of the country’s gas supply.

Among those asking to postpone the vote were three of the four parties that are currently trying to form a new government, including the nationalist PVV party that won the November 2023 election and the centre right VVD of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Without the law, gas production could theoretically be resumed and Lower House lawmakers on Wednesday said they feared a considerable delay and ongoing uncertainty for people living in the region.

Rutte’s caretaker government, in charge until a new government is formed, has repeatedly said it will not resume gas production at Groningen under any circumstance.

VVD lawmaker Silvio Erkens on Wednesday also said the decision to end gas production would not be reconsidered.

“But the Senate has the right to ask for more information,” he added.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer)

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