Germany, Netherlands closer to drilling new natural gas field in Wadden Sea

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its accompanying looming gas shortages have brought Germany and the Netherlands one step closer to drilling for gas in the North Sea above the Wadden Islands, NOS reports.

Germany and Dutch company ONE-Dyas want to mine the gas field above Schiermonnikoog and the German Wadden island of Bokkum, the Minister Bernd Althusmann of Economic Affairs of the state of Lower Saxony announced on Tuesday. The Dutch government already said it would not object. The Netherlands still has a long-term supply contract with Germany that does not take account of the early closure of the Groningen gas field. 

The gas field is located over 20 kilometers above the Wadden Islands in the North Sea, under both the Dutch and German seabed. It contains low-calorific gas, suitable for households in the Netherlands and part of Germany. “We cannot afford to ask the Netherlands for more gas and continue to refuse to extract our own gas,” Althusmann said. 

Gas extraction will begin in the North Sea field within two years, ONE-Dyas director Chris de Ruyter van Steveninck said to the broadcaster. “The potential of this field and the fields in the vicinity is about 60 billion cubic meters.” The Netherlands consumes 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, Germany 90.

The mayors of the nearby Wadden Islands are vehemently opposed to the gas platform off their coast. They worry about environmental damage and climate change. “It’s just old-fashioned and outdated to tap new gas fields,” said mayor Ineke van Gent (GroenLinks) of Schiermonnikoog. “They can use that time and energy better in expanding renewable sources.”

“We understand that the need is urgent. But we argue that they go for the fields further away, not here so close to the coast,” mayor Joachim Bakker of the German municipality of Borkum said to the broadcaster. His island is worried about Groningen conditions. “Subsidence, earthquakes. Geologists can say that drilling is not dangerous, but they also said that in Groningen.”

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