A licence is required to engage in any exploration for or production of mineral resources or geothermal energy and for the storage of substances (Chapter 2, Mining Act). An exploration, production or storage licence gives the exclusive right to perform these activities in the specified area. As the licence application rounds in the Netherlands are permanently open, a licence application can be filed at any time.

Before the start of any production or storage activities, a production or storage plan must be approved by the Minister of Economic Affairs. Additional permits are also required for activities such as drilling a well at a particular location or constructing a production facility.

Both onshore and offshore, the same area may be covered by both a ’shallow’ and a ‘deep’ licence:

  1. The licence area may be split vertically by a boundary delimited by a geological surface, e.g.: hydrocarbon exploration licence Q16b & Q16c-shallow covers all the units down to top Triassic, while hydrocarbon production licence Q16b & Q16c-deep covers Triassic rocks and older.
  2. The licence area may, alternatively, be split vertically by a horizontal surface at a specific depth, e.g. geothermal energy exploration licences FRIESLAND-NOORD and FRIESLAND-ZUID are valid for the strata deeper than 4000m.

Details of the main licensing procedures can be found under procedures licences

Spatial planning - STRONG

The subsurface is getting more and more crowded due to increasingly intensive use. While this can create opportunities, the increasing use of the subsurface also creates conflicts between multiple uses that are difficult to combine, e.g. the production of geothermal energy and natural gas from the same reservoir. This increased congestion demands closer monitoring of the impact which these multiple uses have on people and the environment. This prompted the Dutch government to develop a ‘Subsurface Policy Strategy’ (Structuurvisie Ondergrond) (STRONG) in a policy paper designed to provide guidelines for sustainable and responsible use of the subsurface.

TNO has made an inventory of all potential uses of the deep (>100m) part of the subsurface of the Netherlands and the Dutch part of the Continental Shelf. The set of maps accompanying this study answers the following questions:

"What is located where?" (i.e. the architecture and properties of strata and structures in the deep subsurface that may be suited for a variety of uses), and

"What can be done where?" (i.e. where the properties of the subsurface meet the basic conditions needed for specific uses).

"What are possible consequences?" (i.e. subsidence and seismic events, also with respect to subsurface structures such as faults).

Maps of components which underlie STRONG are availble on the page Models, maps and datasets

Other North Sea licences

Various other activities in the North Sea area may interfere with oil and gas production. These include wind farms and cable and pipeline locations. The latest GIS maps showing these features can be downloaded from the website of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment – North Sea Directorate (Rijkswaterstaat DNZ). Click here to view other digital map files in NLOG.