De Volkskrant, a leading news paper in the Netherlands today reported that new finds of natural gas have been dramatically lower than current production.
Smaller gas fields in the North Sea are running out faster than previously expected, and only 7 smallish new finds have been reported in 2004. Three of them by Gaz de France, the others by NAM and Wintershall.
Gas reserves have gone down from 1615 billion cubic meter to 1572 billion cubic meter. Expectations on new finds still to be made have been lowered from 570 billion cubic meter to 475 billion cubic meter in 2004. The number of planned new drill holes has been brought down from 34 to 21.
The Dutch government and energy producers agree that natural gas will be depleted by 2030, a date years earlier than cited untill now. Income out of natural gas is a major source of income for the government and the motor behind the Dutch welfare state.
All major parties are slowly shifting opinion towards keeping the sole nuclear reactor in the Netherlands open, coming back on earlier plans to close it down. Some tie that to also investing more heavily in solar energy. Meanwhile oil is doing $60 a barrel.