Dutch aim to stop using Russian fossil fuels by year-end

·2-min read

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Netherlands plans to stop using Russian fossil fuels by the end of the year, the government said on Friday, vowing to spend an estimated 623 million euros ($675 million) on incentives for companies to fill a major gas storage facility.

The government said it was focused on making energy savings, greener policies and importing more energy from other countries.

"In this way the Netherlands can completely conserve or replace the Russian share of its gas by the end of the year," it said in a statement, joining other countries in cutting back on Russian supplies in protest over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

About 44% of Dutch energy usage is based on gas - one of the highest rates in Europe - but only about 15% of Dutch gas comes from Russia, according to government estimates.

As part of its efforts to end reliance on Russia, the government said it would compensate companies for filling a gas storage facility at Bergermeer, one of Europe's largest, ahead of the winter.

It estimated the cost of enticing companies to fill the facility, which holds 4.1 billion cubic meters of gas, at around 623 million euros.

It also instructed state energy company EBN to step in to ensure the facility is filled to at least 70% if companies do not respond to the financial incentives.

Bergermeer, which accounts for about a third of the gas storage space in the Netherlands, is 60% owned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Co "TAQA", which also operates it, and 40% owned by EBN.

Russia's Gazprom has the right to 40% of the storage space in the facility, under a deal that runs through 2045. In 2021, Gazprom did not use its share.

A spokesperson for the Economic Affairs Ministry said Gazprom's share could be filled by other parties this year if it does not do so itself under a "use it or lose it" clause.

($1 = 0.9231 euros)

(Reporting by Toby SterlingEditing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)

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