Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) Tuesday said the Bergermeer gas storage project in the Netherlands will not be completed in 2014 as planned, after a Dutch court ordered work to be suspended.
The top court in the Netherlands on Monday ordered the suspension of construction work at the project, citing opposition from environmentalists and local residents. Bergermeer was intended to store up to 4.1 billion cubic metres of gas once completed.
"It is still too early to say, but based on the current information we will not have full operations in 2014," said Allan Virtanen, Taqa's spokesman in the Netherlands.
Drilling work impacted
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He said that Taqa will have to suspend preparatory work for the drilling of 14 wells which are required to make the storage facility fully operational.
A Dutch court Monday ordered the construction of a major storage facility for natural gas be suspended, following resistance from local residents and environmentalists who fret the project may be unsafe.
The ruling is a blow to the Netherlands, which sees the €800 million (Dh4.19 billion) project as a cornerstone in its strategy to become a gas distribution hub in Europe.
The court order is also a setback for operator Abu Dhabi National Energy, better known as Taqa, which holds a 60 per cent stake in the project.
The Bergermeer gas storage facility, located around 40 kilometers outside Amsterdam, is set to provide the northwest European gas market with 4.1 billion cubic metres of open access seasonal storage-nearly doubling the Netherlands' total storage capacity.
However, local residents and environmentalists warn the facility will be unsafe and that it could create earthquakes.
The Dutch Council of State, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands, said on Monday that construction work should be suspended until there is more clarity on the safety issue.
"There is a lot of opposition against these plans," it noted in a statement. The Council is expected to issue a final ruling later this year.
Taqa earlier this year said that it had received all statutory approvals and permits to start construction. Operations are scheduled to start in 2013, with full commercial operations in 2014, it said at the time.
"We're very disappointed and surprised by the decision and we're evaluating the effects of the ruling. But we are confident in a positive outcome," a Taqa spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.
Taqa and Dutch state-owned Energie Beheer Nederland, or EBN, are developing the project with Gazprom Export, a unit of Russia's Gazprom.
Gazprom will deliver an amount of cushion gas for injection into the reservoir.