UT wants to get rid of Gazprom gas, but can’t until 2023

| Jelle Posthuma

Because of the war in Ukraine, the UT wants to stop their deal with Russian gas supplier Gazprom. But according to the university, that won’t be possible until next year. ‘We can’t just cancel the contract.’

The UT has had a contract with the Russian supplier since 2016. Through a European tender, Gazprom Energy came out on top for the UT in both 2016 and 2019. The Russian gas producer has a sales office in Den Bosch that meets all European conditions, says Ray Klumpert of the Campus & Facility Management (CFM) department. ‘The office in Den Bosch only deals in energy. But I assume that the actual gas comes one hundred percent from the Russian parent company and therefore from Russia.’

update 14/3/2022

In response to this article, Gazprom Energy says that they - like other buyers - acquire gas on the Dutch trading platform (TTF). According to Gazprom Energy, the gas the university receives is a Dutch gas mix and thus not one hundred percent from Russia.

The gas contract with Gazprom is valid until 2022 with an option for the year 2023. Because of the war in Ukraine, the Executive Board asked CFM if the university could terminate the contract, says Klumpert. ‘But in my opinion we cannot just terminate it, that is not legally feasible. Moreover, it would mean a large redemption sum. And even worse: we would have to buy gas on the market again. At the moment, gas is twelve times more expensive than in our current contract. That would easily cost the UT an extra ten million euros. And 40 percent of the gas in a new contract will still come from Russia, because of the European gas mix.’

That is why Klumpert advised the Executive Board not to stop with Gazprom until 2023. ‘In the new tender we can take into account the origin of the gas better. We will certainly try to avoid Gazprom gas from 2023 onwards.’ On top of that, there is the question of whether the Russians might shut down the gas supply completely. ‘But that needs to be considered at a national level, we cannot solve that as a university. What we can do at the UT is to strive for gas consumption reduction.’

Surprisingly enough, in the vast majority of buildings at the UT no or hardly any gas is used for heating. The buildings are connected to Ennatuurlijk’s heating network, also known as district heating. The university’s gas consumption is mainly due to air humidification in the labs, Klumpert explains. ‘This is done with steam boilers and a lot of gas is consumed. Furthermore, the costs of the district heating system, which runs on bio-energy, have also risen enormously. Namely, the cost of heating is linked to the price of gas. This does not look financially favourable for the UT.’

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