Which companies will be switched off from gas? And how is that determined?


That there is a gas crisis is clear to everyone. However, the picture becomes more diffuse when the crisis reaches its peak. How should the Netherlands deal with gas shortages and can vital infrastructure be saved? Rob Jetten – the minister for Energy and Climate Policy – will come up with an advice on these matters and has already started consultations with stakeholders. The exact outcome of this advice is not yet known.

The action framework to address a gas crisis is determined by the Gas Protection and Recovery Plan – based on an EU regulation – and includes eleven measures. At some point, if an emergency phase has been declared, non-protected customers may be forced to switch off from gas supplies in order to save protected customers. Protected customers are households and organisations with a social function such as hospitals, and non-protected customers are, for instance,the chemicals and metals industry.

If the current Gas Protection and Recovery Plan is followed, non-protected customers can be switched off based on consumption volume: the largest customer switched off first, then the second, and so on. This takes no account of social and economic consequences because, as the plan itself states, criteria to make a ranking would be subjective. Whether this will continue to be the case is under discussion.

At EU level, it was decided this summer to update the national gas crisis plans. Consideration was given to the possible disruption of society and the economy if certain industries were to be switched-off from gas. This is explicitly an advice – knowing that there are no easy solutions – which means that the Netherlands does not have to follow this consideration.

The minister for Energy and Climate Jetten is currently working on the further operationalisation of the Gas Protection and Recovery Plan. Part of this is determining who exactly are protected and non-protected customers, and in what order non-protected customers will be switched off, if necessary. This could lead to much discussion among stakeholders. After all, switching off will be a disaster. Not only for the company in question, but it also impacts other parts of the supply chain. Several companies have recently stopped production due to extreme energy costs. This casts a shadow ahead.

Minister Jetten has stated that he prefers to focus on voluntary gas savings. One important way of doing this is to develop a gas tender – one of the eleven measures. In this tender, companies can indicate in advance the price at which they wish to renounce consumption of a specified quantity of gas for a specified period. The details are still being discussed. The review of the entire plan is expected to be completed by 1 October. It will then be debated in the House, which may offer room for refining.

The Netherlands is currently still in the first phase of the gas crisis, the early warning phase. The gas reserves are at the desired level and gas consumption is reducing. Nevertheless, a sense of urgency is in order. History shows that the course of crises is difficult to predict. In addition, any ranking of industries may be a blueprint for other crises. It is therefore very important for the companies in question to anticipate these developments. This means that they need to be well informed about the latest developments. It can then be decided how they can provide input into the decision-making process – to ensure that their voice is heard.

"The Dutch gas reserves are at the desired level and gas consumption is reducing. Nevertheless, a sense of urgency is in order. History shows that the course of crises is difficult to predict."

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