Netherlands: Oil & gas sector looking to geothermal development

The quest for clean energy to fill the gap left by declining gas production could be tailor-made for oil firms. 

Geothermal use in the context of greenhouse and heating projects in the Netherlands has been all over the news here on our site for quite some time. A new article published by the Petroleum Economist is going a bit deeper describing how “big oil rises to Dutch geothermal challenge”.

“Going mainstream”, geothermal energy has become a popular and cost-efficient source of clean heating supply for the greenhouse sector of the Netherlands. Companies such as Shell, Engie from France and Canadian Vermilion Energy are all looking at geothermal heat development in the country.

“Today, the Netherlands is leading in Europe,” says Philippe Dumas, secretary general of the European geothermal energy council (EGEC). “The framework conditions in the Netherlands are great for developing deep geothermal projects.” Clearly, with the great experience and history in oil and gas exploration, the Dutch geothermal development can build on an experienced industry with also great data on the country’s geology available.

Data and expertise at hand
The Netherlands’ 60-year oil and gas exploration history also provides a confidence-building backdrop for geothermal investors. The country’s geology has been well mapped and assessed over the decades, providing a wealth of geological data invaluable for picking project sites.

“The potential to develop geothermal energy in the Netherlands is in the same reservoirs as where exploration for and production of oil and gas has been done for many decades,” says Hans Veldkamp, a geologist specialised in geothermal energy at Dutch research organisation TNO.

A 2018 Dutch geothermal masterplan, drawn up by industry and government bodies, estimates that geothermal resources have the technical potential to provide more than 1,000PJ/yr of heat, roughly equivalent to current Dutch annual heating demand of around 960PJ.

A rich exploration history has also left the Netherlands with a top-notch supply chain of engineering and drilling specialists, whose skills can be readily adapted to the geothermal energy sector. “This, in combination with the high gas usage of the enormous and often cooperative greenhouses in the Netherlands, was an important accelerator for the geothermal industry. The match between supply and demand was relatively easy to make,” says Bob Harskamp, business development manager at Well Engineering Partners, a Dutch drilling services company specialised in geothermal projects.

With government support and push, more than 700 wells will have to be drilled to achieve set government goals for the contribution of geothermal energy for clean energy supply.

Source: Well Engineering Partners


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