Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs Henk Kamp told the Dutch Parliament risks associated from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, campaigns in shale natural gas formations could be overcome.
"Natural gas is the most important energy resource in the Netherlands, used by 98 percent of all households," he said in a statement Monday. "To assess the potential importance of fracking for the Dutch economy, we will have to carry out test drills."
Mid-August protests planned by advocacy group No Dash for Gas prompted British energy company Cuadrilla Resources to scale back oil drilling operations briefly in the village of Balcombe, in West Sussex. Protesters worried Balcombe operations were a prelude to a fracking campaign, though Cuadrilla said it would need more permits for that.
Oil Change International said Tuesday the Dutch government "would be wise to look across the English Channel" at the controversy in Balcombe. The group said fracking presents a major risk to groundwater supplies.
The Dutch minister said a site-specific study would be needed before energy companies can start a fracking program. If companies can show their work was safe, more licenses would be required for drilling rig construction and other associated infrastructure.