Historical developments in Dutch gas systems: Unravelling safety concerns in gas provision

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This paper identifies safety concerns that arise from ongoing technical and institutional changes in the Dutch gas sector. The Netherlands has a well-developed gas infrastructure that primarily transports natural gas, although its constituting features are undergoing major changes. We identify three historical developments, and show how (1) ongoing effects of liberalization; (2) earthquakes in the Groningen-area; and (3) commitment to climate goals affect safety. Between trends of ongoing decentralization and a growing variety of gas producers, the most urgent concerns relate to the operation of low- and medium pressure distribution grids. Natural gas is losing its prominent role, leaving system operators faced with trade-offs induced by a declining share of customers. At the same time, responsibilities for new gas technologies are allocated over a growing number of actors. In illustrating how safety practices have evolved in line with incremental technological and institutional developments over the last half century, this article elaborates how sudden changes in constitutional features of infrastructural systems might jeopardize system safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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