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    Dutch GasTerra Sets Date for Exit


The company will cease trading in a little over four years' time.

by: William Powell

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Dutch GasTerra Sets Date for Exit

Dutch marketer GasTerra has set the date for its final trading day: December 31, 2024, confirming its announcement last year when it said it would wind up operations at some point. There will be a number of long-term obligations remaining then.

In a September 24 statement, GasTerra CEO Annie Krist said it was "the end of an era" and a direct consequence of the government's decision to halt output from the Groningen field.

GasTerra's shareholders – the government, Anglo-Dutch Shell and US ExxonMobil – will consult with the company's board to decide in good time which party will carry out the tasks arising from the long-term contracts.

For the moment everything is still much the same as before, except that GasTerra will not enter into any more new gas sales contracts for gas deliveries after December 31, 2023, unless this becomes necessary to balance the remaining portfolio – the whole of the purchasing and selling obligations – it said.

Pursuant to the Dutch Gas Act, GasTerra is obliged to buy natural gas produced from the small Dutch fields under reasonable conditions and at market rates if a producer so wishes. Following on from last year's decision to discontinue GasTerra’s activities in the near future, the industry and climate minister Eric Wiebes said he wants to dispense with this legal requirement as soon as possible, GasTerra said.

GasTerra is the successor company to the bundled pipeline and sales companie Gasunie, which was set up some 60 years ago to market the gas from the Groningen field. That field, which was discovered by the two majors and brought vast amounts of wealth to them and the Dutch government, will cease output permanently in 2022, regardless of market conditions, Wiebes has said.

Groningen still contains hundreds of billions of cubic metres of reserves, but fear of tremors has led to its closure. It could safely produce gas, according to the Dutch mining regulator, as long as there was a ceiling on output of about 12bn m³/yr and there was not much fluctuation in output. The field was worked hard to meet daily nominations for household demand in winter in northwest Europe.

GasTerra said it will consider whether there is still, at this stage of its existence, scope for fresh agreements with new or existing parties; this will be done year by year and case by case. 

Krist said: "Our company is now faced with the task of bringing the phasing-out process to a successful conclusion, in the interests of our employees, our customers and other stakeholders. Until that time we hope to continue playing our part in ensuring that the gas market functions effectively.” GasTerra was set up in 2005. The pipeline business retained the Gasunie brand.