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Jeroen van der Molen

Jeroen van der Molen,

Geologist

Mail:

jeroen.vandermolen@tno.nl

What does the data show when drilling for geothermal energy, oil, gas and salt in the Netherlands?

An overview of drilling activities in the Netherlands show us a record in the number of geothermal wells being drilled in the past year. Wells drilled for oil- and gas also showed a record last year, though in a different way.

Overview of all wells in the Netherlands

Earlier this year the Advisory Group of Economic Affairs (TNO-AGE, part of the Geological Survey of the Netherlands) published an overview on NLOG.nl showing all wells that have been drilled in 2023. Among other things this has been done in preparation of the Annual review of natural resources and geothermal energy in the Netherlands. All wells are categorized in tables to provide insight in the number and type (oil, gas, salt or geothermal), the purpose (exploration, appraisal or development), the operators and the result.

For both the oil- and gas and the geothermal energy sector 2023 was a record year. In 2023 a total of 9 oil- and gas wells have been drilled in the Dutch on- and offshore: the lowest number of wells since the Second World War [source 1]. In contrast the number of geothermal wells, 13 in total, was the highest since 2007. [source 2]

In the next paragraphs the results of 2023 are compared with the results of the past 10 years.

Oil- en gas wells (on- and offshore)

Fig1-2 oil-gas wells onshore offshore NL 10yrs
In 2023 a total of three oil- and gas wells were drilled onshore and six offshore. As can be deduced from figure 1, the number of wells drilled onshore has reduced since 2014. After 2016, the average number of wells drilled has stabilized to roughly 2 wells each year. In comparison, before 2017 the average was 10 wells drilled each year. This means a reduction of 80%.

The number of drilled wells offshore (figure 2) also shows a decrease as compared from 2014 and onwards. After a sharp decline from 2014 to 2016 the decline has become less pronounced, but overall the total number of wells keeps decreasing. From 2014 to 2023 there is a reduction of 75% in drilled wells in the offshore.

Geothermal wells

Figure 3 shows that in 2023 a total of 13 geothermal wells were drilled. This is the highest number ever. It is striking that over the past ten years a fluctuating trend can be observed in the number of geothermal wells drilled per year. On average, since 2014 six geothermal wells were drilled each year. Compared with development wells, the number of exploration wells is relatively low.
Fig3 Geothermal wells NL past 10 years

Salt wells

In figure 4 it can be seen that in the past year and in 2021 no wells have been drilled targeting salt. Until 2020, an average of 5 salt wells were drilled yearly. Including the last three years, the average drops to 4 salt wells per year.
Fig4 Drilled salt wells NL past 10 years

Source references

Source 1: overview T & U and source 2: chapter 5 in the Annual review of natural resources and geothermal energy in the Netherlands.

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