On Thursday 31 May, Céline Fremault, the Regional Minister for Energy and the Environment, launched a campaign to inform the citizens of Brussels about the conversion from lean gas to rich gas. In Flanders and Wallonia, customers who live in most of the municipalities of the provinces of Antwerp, Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant will have to switch to rich gas. In Brussels, all municipalities will be affected.
Let's look at the reasons for this change
In Belgium, 1.5 million households and companies consume lean gas imported from the north of the Netherlands (Groningen-Slochteren). The reserves of lean gas have dwindled over the years, which is why the authorities in the Netherlands have decided to stop exporting it from 2030. It is therefore crucial to find an alternative and roll out rich gas to the entire country.
How will this happen?
The conversion will take place over 4 years, between 2020 and 2023. The Brussels Region is divided into 4 geographical areas and each year on 1 June, one area will switch to rich gas. To find out when you will be affected, consult the following website: https://gaschanges.brussels/
The gas transport and distribution infrastructure has already been adapted. But that's not all: you need to get ready too!
How can I prepare for this change?
To be certain that all your gas appliances are compatible and will work correctly and safely after the conversion, you should get them checked by an authorised person. Examples of such appliances include your boiler, cooker, hobs, stoves or decorative open fires. These appliances may have to be adjusted or replaced if they are dilapidated and/or incompatible with rich gas. But don't worry, 98% of appliances are compatible. Only appliances dating from before 1978 or foreign appliances often have to be replaced.
Sibelga, Bruxelles Environnement and the government advise you to combine the compatibility check with your boiler or water heater's next mandatory regular check. This will help you avoid extra charges. The new legal framework for the regular energy performance check will automatically include a verification during the check and a regional allowance will be available for households in financial difficulty (category C).
Sibelga is here to help
An official communication in the form of a letter or email will be sent to you at the latest 24 months before the conversion date for your area. Later on, 3 to 4 months before the cut-off date, you will receive a reminder. This will ensure that you have taken all the necessary steps. People who live in the municipalities of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Koekelberg and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, which will be affected by the conversion in 2020, will receive all the information they need in 2018.
Two years in advance may seem premature, but don't be fooled. It takes time to check all your gas appliances. This is why you are advised to get these checks done in plenty of time. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.
Where will the rich gas come from?
Rich gas will be imported from other countries such as Norway, the United Kingdom, Qatar and Russia. However, the composition of rich gas is different to lean gas. The infrastructure used to transport gas from the Netherlands to Belgium used for lean gas has recently been adapted, both at the level of Fluxys and distribution network managers such as Sibelga.