Onder de titel, ‘Europe grapples with Dutch gas production ‘collapse’’, schreef Frédéric Simon voor ‘EURACTIV’ over de gevolgen van het wegvallen van het Groningse aardgas voor de Europese gasmarkt. Ik pik er een aantal elementen uit.

For the first time, the Netherlands became a net importer of gas last year, reflecting the inexorable decline in production from Europe’s North Sea fields – an issue EU policymakers are only starting to come to terms with.

Although the decline of Dutch gas production was long anticipated, the abruptness of the fall came as a surprise to industry observers. …

Natural gas consumption in Europe last year reached its highest level since 2010, according to EU figures released in April. And the vast majority of it was imported, representing a whopping 360 billion cubic meters (bcm) of the 491bcm consumed in Europe, up 10% from 2016.

This resulted in an estimated import bill of €75 billion, the European Commission said in its latest quarterly report on European gas markets.

“Recently, gas volumes have risen again, driven by factors such as economic growth and the replacement of coal-fired power generation by gas,” ….

For the Netherlands, the combination of these factors was spectacular. For the first time, the country became a net importer of gas on an annual basis last year, reflecting the steady decline in supplies coming from North Sea fields [sic]. On 29 March, the Dutch government announced it will cut production at the Groningen gas field to 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year by 2022, and to zero by 2030.

Russia, meanwhile, maintained its role as Europe’s dominant supplier, at 43% of EU imports. Pipeline gas from Norway came a distant second, at 34%, while the combined share of Algerian and Libyan supplies stood much lower, at 10% of EU imports in 2017, down from 11% in 2016. …

With domestic production falling inexorably, no country other than Russia seems in a position to raise its production significantly – at least in the short to medium term. …

This leaves policymakers in Brussels grappling with an uncomfortable reality: Despite their best efforts to liberalise gas markets and diversify supplies, Russia is likely to remain Europe’s dominant supplier for many years. … the collapse of Dutch production means Russia will probably remain at the centre of the game for years to come, …

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will undoubtedly fill some of the gap left by falling Dutch production.

In 2017, LNG imports covered 14% of total extra-EU gas imports, up from 13% in 2016, a share which is only projected to grow. Research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows LNG demand in Europe is expected to jump to 23.1% in 2030, on the back of falling domestic production in the North Sea and reluctance to import more gas from Russia.

But in the short term, the liquid and well-connected Northwest European market was not very attractive for LNG supplies: There, LNG has to compete with cheaper indigenous production and pipeline imports from Norway and Russia, notes the Commission report. As a result, LNG carriers sailing off from the US, Australia or elsewhere make more money shipping supplies to Asian markets, where consumers are ready to pay a higher price.

That could change if consumers in Europe are ready to pay more. Otherwise, there is no reason why European markets should go for anything else than Russian gas, which is cheaper, more abundant, and essentially more competitive.

“In terms of pure economics, pipeline gas should win hands down,” said Spencer Dale, the chief economist at British oil and gas company BP. “Particularly Russia has very large reserves and very low–cost gas. And it has very big pipelines going to Europe. It has a huge competitive advantage relative to imports of LNG from anywhere else in the world,” Dale told EURACTIV in a recent interview.

Russia’s position will only strengthen when the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is built, roughly doubling Gazprom’s capacity to export gas to Europe directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

For EU policymakers bent on diversifying supplies away from Russia, this is perceived as a slap in the face. But “the problem is that there isn’t any other gas,” Stern said. “At least not in the short term. And that’s what people can’t accept”.

“We have to have a frank and objective discussion about how much gas we really need in the future in the post-CoP21 context and against the background of the 2030 climate and energy framework,” Maroš Šefčovič, the EU Commission Vice-President in charge of the Energy Union, told the European Parliament in 2016.

However, these are long-term transitions which imply a deep transformation of how energy is produced and consumed. Until this happens, imported gas is likely to remain a significant part of the European energy mix.

Lees verder hier.

Kortom Rusland is vooralsnog de dominante leverancier van gas in Europa. Rusland heeft grote reserves van laag–geprijsd gas – goedkoper dan LNG van elders – en pijpleidingen om dat naar West–Europa te transporteren. Met de voltooiing van de oliepijpleiding Nord Stream 2 door de Baltische Zee in 2019 naar Greifswald (Duitsland) wordt de uitvoercapaciteit van Rusland verdubbeld: van ongeveer 55 miljard m3 tot 110 miljard m3 per jaar. Deze toename is ongeveer twee maal zo groot als het geleidelijk wegvallen van de jaarlijkse export van 27 miljard kubieke meter Gronings gas aan Duitsland, Frankrijk en België.

In het licht van het voorgaande rijst de vraag waarom Nederland zo nodig aan de warmtepomp moet. Immers, warmtepompen zijn niet alleen erg duur maar er kleven ook nog vele andere nadelen aan. Zij vergen bijvoorbeeld hoge bijkomende investeringen en zijn niet in staat bij koud weer voldoende warmte te leveren. Zie hier.