But after the Dutch and German governments approved the development of a new gas field about 12 miles off the coast of Schiermonnikoog, the island’s mayor he is anxious about his future.
“We are very concerned that the gas drilling will damage the area,” Mayor Ineke said van Gent told CNN Business. “We also believe that drilling is not necessary [for] new gas and that we should invest much more in renewable energy “.
The gas field near Schiermonnikoog is not expected to start supplying gas to Dutch and German households until 2024. Once lit, it could operate for decades, with licenses valid until 2042.
“In principle, we need to get rid of all fossil fuels and we need to get rid of them very quickly,” said Han Dolman, director of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, who opposes the project. “It’s not an immediate solution to anything [related to] the Russian gas crisis “.
ONE-Dyas, the Dutch company managing the development, said it has been in frequent contact with local stakeholders since 2018 and has conducted an extensive environmental impact report that has been reviewed by regulators. Internally produced gas also has a lower emissions footprint than natural gas imported from other countries, he added.
The great gas rush
The situation in Europe is “dangerous” and the region must prepare for a “long and hard winter”, according to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Even if European countries manage to fill their gas deposits to 90% of their capacity, it is likely that the region will still face supply disruptions early next year if Russia decides to stop gas deliveries from October. said the IEA.
The risk has pushed countries to find alternative fuel sources and to conserve what they can.
It also authorized politicians to support an expansion of the gas sector with a belief that it would have been unthinkable just a year ago due to climate concerns. Since February, government officials have lifted production limits and approved new drilling sites, often citing the need for pragmatism during times of high stress.
“You’re just seeing this 180-degree turn around the world,” said Oswald Clint, an energy analyst at Sanford Bernstein.
A long-term vision
Some of these gas projects could increase energy supplies to Europe this winter should Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off flows from Russia.
Luca Benedetto, chief financial officer, said in a statement that the decision was taken “in the context of the growing need for European internal energy security and a highly encouraging price climate”.
Tara Connolly, a gas activist with Brussels-based Global Witness, said one of her concerns is that the projects will not be needed once they are actually completed.
“Just before Ukraine, there was a real sense that Europe had enough gas infrastructure, even in the event of significant outages,” Connolly said. “Now it’s really a different picture.”
Also, given the timing, renewables could fill up the gap instead of natural gas, which has a lower carbon footprint than oil and coal but still contributes to global warming, according to Connolly.
The ecological risk
This is an opinion shared by the mayor of Schiermonnikoog. It is also concerned about the protection of a sensitive UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“My main concern is [the] sinking of the soil, which means we also have problems living on water, ”van Gent said.
“It is located in a nature reserve area, so it doubles in terms of impact,” he said. “You should be careful in these areas to do anything, let alone start new gas production platforms.”
Carsten Mühlenmeier, president of the German regulatory agency responsible for North Sea permits, said that “the territorial sea is a sensitive area where undisturbed use should be favored over mining and private interests”, especially given the need to decrease the demand for fossil fuels. However, he gave his good once the Netherlands signed and when the political winds changed in Berlin.
“The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has shown that securing energy supply is a challenge, overriding some security measures, especially environmental concerns,” Mühlenmeier told CNN Business.
“It is completely irrational for the government to approve – and heavily subsidize – a project like Jackdaw that does nothing to address the energy price crisis while contributing to climate change,” said climate activist Lauren MacDonald. “Our dependence on fossil fuels is at the root of both crises, yet the government continues to try to move forward with new oil and gas projects.”
– Rosanne Roobeek and Anna 58,1an contributed to the reporting.