(Bloomberg) — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said increasing output from the Groningen gas field would be a last resort for the Netherlands.

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The Dutch government won’t say it will “never discuss Groningen” as a way to bolster supplies, but that would be only in an “ultimate situation,” Rutte said in an interview in Brussels after the European Union summit that ended on Friday.

Rutte said Russia cutting gas supplies is not reason enough to boost production at the controversial field, which the government has earmarked to close in October 2023 if the geopolitical situation permits.

Rutte’s remarks come amid a heated political debate over the future of Groningen, which has been a key source of gas for much of Western Europe, and a mainstay of Dutch state finances, since output commenced in 1963.

Nearby towns have been damaged by hundreds of earthquakes triggered by drilling for gas.

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Instead of boosting the field’s output to stave off potential shortages of Russian natural gas, the Netherlands removed limits on power production from coal-fired plants to help ensure energy security, joining other European countries in turning to the heavily polluting fossil fuel.

“There are others who say you should open up Groningen because it would lead to lower gas prices,” Rutte said. “Well, 40 billion cubic meters is not enough to move the world spot market gas prices.”

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