NGOs File Suit to Block Offshore Gas Field in the Dutch North Sea

borkum offshore field
Illustration courtesy ONE-Dyas

Published Jul 17, 2022 9:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

Europe's plans to replace politically-fraught Russian natural gas will have to overcome many hurdles, including alternative supply constraints, LNG import capacity and - as with any fossil fuel initiative - environmental lawsuits.

The NGO German Environmental Aid (DUH) - which filed a lawsuit earlier this year to block an LNG terminal at Wilhelmshaven, Germany - has joined Dutch NGO Mobilization for the Environment in an attempt to block plans to drill for gas off the island of Borkum in the Dutch North Sea. 

The Dutch government has signed off on a proposal from energy company ONE-Dyas to install a new production platform just on the edge of the Dutch EEZ (the N05-A project). The field extends under neighboring Germany's seabed, and despite initial objections, Germany has also green-lighted the proposal due to the urgent need to replace Russian gas. 

The field is due to come online in 2024 - too late for this winter or next, but soon enough to contribute to Europe's energy security in the medium term. However, DUH sees the plan in terms of climate objectives. 

"The plans have nothing to do with energy security: A small amount of fossil gas is to be promoted from 2024 at the earliest. On the other hand, the construction of a new platform in the North Sea will create a new infrastructure that will increase our long-term dependence on fossil fuels," asserted Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Federal Managing Director of DUH. "This is not compatible with the climate goals. That is why we are going to court together with our partners."

The islands of Juist and Borkum have also filed a separate, parallel lawsuit to stop the gas project. 

"Project N05-A and the energy transition go hand in hand. The transition to 100 percent renewable energy takes time. Natural gas will still be part of the energy mix in the coming decades. As long as natural gas is still needed to heat our homes, it is our job to make sure it is as clean, affordable and reliable as possible," said Chris de Ruyter van Steveninck, the company's CEO. 

If the platform does move ahead, ONE-Dyas plans to run it on 100 percent wind energy from a nearby wind farm.