In an effort to strengthen its negotiating power with larger energy exporters such as Russia, the Netherlands is thought to be building closer contacts with LNG exporters and developing alternative energy sources.

The Netherlands, Western Europe’s third largest natural gas producer after Norway and Britain, is believed to be looking at LNG and the Nabucco pipeline project - which would bring central Asian gas to Europe as its own resources appear to diminish, according to Economy Minister Maria van der Hoeven.

“We are very interested in getting LNG from, for instance, Qatar, Algeria, Angola and Egypt, that is why we are building an LNG terminal now in Rotterdam Harbour,” Van der Hoeven is quoted as having said in a recent interview. “What we are investing in now is good contacts with gas exporting countries.”

LNG supplies would help the country confirm its position as an energy hub in north-west Europe and increase its bargaining position. The exhausted gas field would be used for storage and its pipeline network would continue to export gas across the continent.