It’s perhaps not wise to throw out your existing hydrocarbon sources of energy until the new, green sources of energy are up to the job of replacing them. Especially when of your prime sources of hydrocarbons—Russia—doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. From Cyril Widdershoven at oilprice.com:
Europe’s energy crunch is continuing, as gas storage volumes have shrunk to 10-year lows. A possible harsh winter could lead to severe energy shortages and possible shutdowns of large parts of the economy.
While the main discussion is currently focused on the potential role of Russia in the energy crisis, a new narrative could soon make the headlines. In a surprise move, the Dutch government has indicated that in a severe supply crunch situation, the Groningen gas field, Europe’s largest onshore gas field, could partially and temporarily be reopened. It seems that the term Dutch Disease could get a new meaning, from being the paradox of a rentier state suffering from plentiful resources to a show of Europe’s lack of realism when it comes to energy transition risks and current market powers. Dutch Minister Stef Blok has indicated that he is considering the potential reopening of the Groningen field, in particular five wells, especially the one at Slochteren, as indicated by Johan Attema, director of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), the operator of the Groningen field. The reopening of the field, even in the case of an emergency or an energy crisis, is politically controversial.
Until recently, the plan was that Groningen would be closed completely by 2023, ending the large-scale gas production and export by the Netherlands with a bang.
The Dutch media is speculating that minister Blok will be asking for a possible reopening of the Groningen field, a decision that must be made before October 1. If the Minister decides to change the current shutdown plans, the whole Groningen debacle, as some see it, will be prolonged. It is clear, looking at the current deplorable situation of the European energy sector, that Groningen is still needed. The ongoing energy crunch could have grave consequences for the economies and wellbeing of EU member states, changing the narratives in Brussels and the respective European capitals.