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