A hot shower in the morning. A warm house when it’s cold outside. Chances are you have natural gas to thank for those comforts. But where does that gas come from? From Groningen? From abroad? How does that gas ultimately make it to your home and what is Gasunie’s role in all of this? We asked Henk Wolting, our Senior Gas Transmission Adviser.
Gas consumption in the Netherlands
In 2019, we used 41.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas in the Netherlands. “Our gas consumption fluctuates somewhat on an annual basis, depending on factors such as the severity of the winter season,” explains Henk. “That said, gas consumption in the Netherlands has hovered around the 40 billion cubic metre mark for many years. Mind you, nowhere near all of that volume of 40 billion cubic metres is used for heating and hot water. Under half of all natural gas goes to households and businesses, and the rest is used by industry and power plants.
From Groningen and abroad
Does all the gas come from Groningen? “No, most certainly not,” says Henk. “Extraction from the Groningen field has been wound down considerably over the past few years and will be zero by 2022. In 2019, 15.5 billion cubic metres came from Groningen, which constitutes a halving compared to 2015. Besides the Groningen field, we have various other fields in the Netherlands, both onshore and offshore. Most of the gas that flows through our pipelines comes from abroad, from countries such as Norway, Russia, the UK and countries in the Middle East. Given that many households, businesses and industrial consumers in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France can only use Groningen-quality gas, we convert high-calorific gas from other sources into gas with the same quality as Groningen gas for them. We do that by mixing in nitrogen. Over the past year, our nitrogen plants converted 28.9 billion cubic metres of gas into Groningen-quality gas.
From export to import
“There are many points where gas enters Gasunie’s network. In the province of Groningen, NAM has its own network that is connected to our grid. A meter at this connection point tells us exactly how much gas has been supplied. International pipelines feed natural gas from neighbouring countries into the Dutch grid. At the Maasvlakte site in the Port of Rotterdam, liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is processed and fed into our grid in gaseous form.” In 2015, the Netherlands still had a gas production surplus, which was exported. Today, as a country, we import more gas than we export, meaning that the Netherlands has become a net importer of gas.