Dutch energy firms have been forced to tap into the country’s gas reserves as the cold wave is boosting demand.
Temperatures in the Netherlands have hovered around or below freezing since early December, and the cold spell is expected to continue at least until the end of this week.
As a result, the gas consumption of Dutch households and companies has risen significantly recently and the country has had to resort to its stored gas reserves to satisfy demand, a spokesperson for Dutch energy network operator Gasunie told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.
Gasunie estimated that the Netherlands consumed 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas over the last cold week, more than doubling the average weekly usage of about 0.61 cubic meter this year until the end of November. Hence the need to tap into the reserves.
“It is normal at this time of the year and therefore not alarming,” the Gasunie spokesperson told Xinhua.
Despite the cold, the Dutch have used less gas than they normally would in cold weather in order to save costs. About 20 percent less gas was used than in previous years under the same winter conditions.
“This applies not only to regular consumers, but also to companies,” the spokesperson said.
“Everyone feels it in their wallet and thinks twice before turning up the heating. Instead of 20 degrees Celsius at home, the temperature now is often set at 18 degrees.”
Energy prices have remained at high levels in the Netherlands since the beginning of this year.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) said in its most recent inflation report that in November, energy was 70 per cent more expensive than one year previously. In October, the year-on-year increase was 173 per cent.
The spokesperson acknowledged that the situation this year is different because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“However, we will be fine for this winter, even if it turns out to be harsh.”
In preparation for a winter without natural gas supplies from Russia, the Dutch government announced in September that it had succeeded in filling the national gas storage facilities to more than 80 per cent capacity and that the process was bound to continue.
Gasunie says it wants to increase its imports to prevent a potential gas shortage and it also plans to expand the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals.