The construction of a drilling platform in the North Sea near Schiermonnikoog has been halted by the preliminary relief judge due to possible damage to nature. According to the judge, it is not clear how much influence the nitrogen emissions will have on the Natura 2000 areas in the area.
The case has been brought by several environmental organizations from the Netherlands and Germany. They are afraid that the gas drilling will lead to irreparable damage to, among other things, the Borkum Stones, which lie above Schiermonnikoog. In this part of the North Sea, the bottom is covered with a characteristic crust with gravel, stones and boulders.
The Dutch company ONE-Dyas has received a permit from the Ministry of Economic Affairs for the gas project, including a pipeline to land. The company says that studies and assessments have shown that the damage to the natural areas will not be significant. But the court ruled that that conclusion cannot yet be drawn.
“We hope that ONE-Dyas will reconsider the plans for the drilling platform now that the permit has been suspended,” says Stijn van Uffelen of Mobilization for the Environment (MOB) in a response. “Companies like ONE-Dyas must take their responsibility and make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”
5 percent of gas demand
The gas field is located partly in the Netherlands and partly in Germany. That country had doubts for a long time about drilling for new gas fields, but was turned around when shortages threatened after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The field must eventually cover 5 percent of the Dutch gas demand.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs expects that the new gas fields will contribute to sustainability, which is disputed by scientists. The aim was to transport the first gas to land via a pipeline in 2024.
The question is whether that will still work after this ruling, now that a judge has to review the case. “The judge rules that ONE-Dyas must take an intermediate step,” said a spokesperson for the ministry. “We await it.”
Company regrets inconvenience
ONE-Dyas regrets that the gas project is being hindered by the nitrogen problem. The company says that it has taken measures to minimize the amount of nitrogen.
“A number of these measures have not yet been formally approved by the competent government authorities. Because this approval has not yet been obtained, the preliminary relief judge has suspended some of the permits,” says a spokesperson.
“In the coming weeks, we will examine the options to keep track of our goal to contribute to the demand for natural gas in the Netherlands and Germany with natural gas from our own soil by the end of next year, as long as this domestic demand is there.”
- The Dutch part of the North Sea has more gas than expected
- The Germans are making a U-turn and now also want to drill for gas at the Wadden Islands