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Minister sees role as EUís industry hub

The Netherlands may be turning to Russia for more natural gas

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - The Netherlands wants to extend and strengthen contacts with gas-producing countries, but Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Van der Hoeven seems to be thinking primarily of Russia. She sees her country playing a role as an influential partner in EUís natural gas market. Although small in size, the Netherlands has a major natural gas field in Groningen and has developed a significant pipeline system to distribute natural gas to the community.

By 2025, the Netherlands will no longer be exporting natural gas, but will be importing it, according to the minister. Around that time, she anticipates, the Netherlands will have transformed into the northwest European hub for the import, re-export and storage of natural gas and will also be a natural gas commodity trader.

Van der Hoeven noted that the Netherlands is favourably located between the large natural gas markets of the UK and Germany. Other favourable features are its suitability for underground natural gas storage and the capacity of the Rotterdam port as venue for LNG gas imports. To accommodate such a commodity trade, she prefers a single national integrated trader.


The minister plans to regularly go on trade missions to large producer Russia. Such initiatives can be very positive, especially if Dutch natural gas requirements can be linked with the Russiansí demand for products and the know-how that the Dutch offer. She said she was thinking of energy conservation techniques, advanced agriculture and water management. Another natural gas supplier the Dutch have in view is Algeria, a country she hopes to visit soon.

To accommodate the envisioned transportation requirements, the infrastructure must be expanded and upgraded, the minister cautioned. She expects to raise the matter with the Dutch parliament soon.

Van der Hoeven sees a better future for the small Dutch natural gas fields. Such ísleeping fieldsí could be auctioned off to interested specialized companies. Currently they all are part of the Gasunie system. The minister also plans to offer incentives for managing less attractive fields in the Dutch part of the North Sea shelf and wants to offer a covenant soon with the mining industry to encourage active use of licenses.