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Frisian Islands challenge North Sea drilling plan

The joint offshore gas project by the Netherlands and Germany has raised environmental concernsFrisian Islands challenge North Sea drilling plan

Frisian Islands challenge North Sea drilling plan

© Getty Images / Michael Saint Maur Sheil

The Netherlands, along with Germany, will start developing a new gas field in the North Sea, the Dutch government said on Wednesday. The joint project will drill for gas around 19 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of the two countries, near the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog and the German island of Borkum.

The plan to drill on the Dutch-German border is not new, but it has taken on a new urgency in recent months amid the EU’s plan to move away from Russian energy, according to the report.

Dutch State Secretary for the Extractive Industries Hans Vijlbrief “issued permits for the Dutch part today,” according to the statement, which added that “an accelerated procedure for the required permits is underway” in Germany.

Last year, authorities of the German state of Lower Saxony opted not to issue permits for the project because of ecological concerns near the islands of Schiermonnikoog and Borkum. However, German and Dutch officials are “now making a different decision because of the war in Ukraine,” the Dutch ministry said.

Russia cuts off gas to Netherlands

Meanwhile, the mayors of both islands are opposed to the project, which they say could harm the environment. Previous studies commissioned by the Dutch government indicated that the damage will be minimal both during well drilling and gas production.

The EU nations’ move comes just one day after Russia’s Gazprom declared it would suspend supplies to GasTerra over the Dutch supplier’s refusal to pay for deliveries in rubles.

If approved by German officials, the first gas from the joint drilling could be produced by the end of 2024.

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