Labour Gives Fracking Thumbs Down As Debate Heats Up


The Dutch Labour Party, part of the current governing coalition , has come out in opposition to the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the country. The People's Party For Freedom and Democracy (WD) remains in favour of the practice despite reports of growin g opposition at the local level with a number local councils and officials expressing their opposition on the back of environmental concerns. At a recent Labour congress, members voted in favour of a moratorium on test drilling, but according to party lead er Diederik Samson the party's opposition could be overcome if technological improvements are made that satisfy safety concerns.

However , the move was a reversal of previous Labour support for fracking. Currently the economic affairs ministry is conducting a study to determine its impact. Only after the report is released - currently set for July - will ministers then cho o se a course of action. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates the country has some 476bn cubic metres (bcm) worth of technically recoverable reserves, compared to estimated proven reserves of 1,200bcm.

Notable Resources In Netherlands
Technically Recoverable Shale Gas Resource Estimates By Selected Countries (bcm)

The country's economic minister, Henk Kamp, estimates that shale gas could deliver 2-4bcm in additional gas volumes. Exploration is currently underway by UK shale gas player Cuadrilla , which plans to carry out test wells across three sites: Noordoostpolder, Boxtel and Haaren . However , growing opposition to the practice - some 33 of 400 local authorities have come out against fracking with the recent volte- face from the Labour party - is contributing to uncertainly for the practice in the near term.

Although exploration will be need ed to firm up the scale of the country's resources, an extra 2-4bcm in gas production would present moderate upside for the Netherlands. Although currently self sufficien t in gas, according to official government forecast s the country is due to become a net importer of gas by 2025. Given gas meets around half of domestic demand for energy and contributes sizable revenue via exports, the looming prospect of imports could boost the outlook for shale gas.

With a parliamentary debate set to intensify this summer, if fracking is to continue, supporters in the governing coalition will have to have to maintain their numbers with the loss of 38 Labour votes. At present, it appears the momentum to tap shale gas in the Netherlands is due to slow , with support for the practice waning.

Imports Eyed By 2025 As Output Slips
Official Gas Production Forecast By Source (bcm)
This article is tagged to:
Sector: Oil & Gas
Geography: Netherlands