Most people prefer stability, predictability and security. Unannounced changes, especially if they have a substantial impact, disturb the peace, require adjustment and force us to leave the beaten path. Companies are like people; they are focused on continuity and require predictability. After all, you can’t plan for the future and make investments based on uncertainty. But there are a lot of factors that we don’t control. The gas sector is a good example. The last few years, we have been faced with major changes which we had not seen coming. I think back to the year 2009 once in a while. In Groningen, in the presence of Queen Beatrix, we celebrated the fact that it had been 50 years since the Groningenveld was discovered. There was not a word of criticism. Almost everyone agreed that natural gas had brought the Netherlands a lot of great things, such as a cheap, clean and comfortable source of energy and, in addition, a constant high income. People agreed that this situation would remain the same for a decade or two, maybe even three. Although many Groningers believed that they got a bad deal where the allocation of natural gas money was concerned, compared with the rest of the country, this did not dampen the party.
And now, only six years on, the situation has completely changed. Natural gas is associated with problems. Because of the earthquakes, many inhabitants of the province of Groningen no longer feel safe, and the gas producer, the NAM, and the government, have been faced with the unprecedented challenge to to restore confidence and continue the necessary gas extraction. The discussions about the role of natural gas in the energy mix have also done little to improve the image of our product. Where, at the time of the 50th anniversary, we were able to comfortably sell natural gas as a Triple A product (Available, Affordable & Environmentally Acceptable), a significant section of society now sees it as a fossil fuel we have to get rid of as soon as possible. And all that while, in the short and medium term, natural gas can and must make a substantial contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
As a buyer and seller of natural gas, we of course feel the impact of all this unrest. It has forced us to adapt our organization. The production-restricting measures in Groningen imposed by the Cabinet mean that we, as an exclusive trader of Groningen gas, can sell less volume. Because of that production limit (and the result limit on sales), there is less Groningen gas available for the market. As a result, we have had to adjust our strategy to the new circumstances. The main requirement is and remains that we continue to meet the delivery obligations to our customers and continue to fulfil our central role in the security of supply.
Our company is also going through a reorganization. We need to reduce our costs and, where possible, work more efficiently. All that without endangering our mission: Add as much value as possible to Dutch gas. The idea is that we can no longer do everything we want, and that we have to be more efficient in what we do. We have given ourselves a period of a few years to bring the process to a successful conclusion.
Almost always, change also offers new opportunities. Ultimately, we see this change as a chance to make GasTerra even better and more efficient, with one story, one face, and one sales channel.
Because, change or no change, we remain convinced that gas will continue to play a vital role in the energy mix, now and in the foreseeable future. That is what our mission is and what we are committed to do.