The Netherlands Natural Gas Market
The discovery of the giant Groningen onshore gas field in 1959 is generally acknowledged to represent the birth of the European natural gas industry. In addition to meeting the majority of the Netherland’s domestic gas requirements it has also played a key role in providing base supply and winter ‘swing’ flexibility to neighboring North West European markets. As natural gas consumption increased the Netherland’s geographic position enabled it to adopt the role of a ‘gas roundabout’; importing gas from Russia and Norway some of which transited through to adjacent markets. Field maturity, inevitable production decline and the occurrence of earth tremors coinciding with high production periods are also placing restrictions on Netherlands gas production. In addition to describing the development of this market, the paper will address the issue of whether the Dutch Disease was more fiction than fact, the outlook for Dutch gas consumption and the remarkable success the country has had in creating the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) which has rapidly emerged as continental Europe’s pre-eminent gas trading hub.