Last updated on 5 May 2020
Rich gas and lean gas are the two types of natural gas that are distributed in Belgium via different networks. The difference between them is their calorific value, i.e. a different quantity of energy. In other words, 1 m³ of lean gas provides less energy than 1 m³ of rich gas.
When using a wood-burning stove, no-one would want to pay the same price for a cubic metre of pinewood as for a cubic metre of oak. The volume may be the same, but pine wood contains far less bulk (and hence less energy) than oak.
The same is true of gas. The two sorts of gas available in Belgium have a different calorific value, i.e. a different quantity of energy.
The combustion of 1m³ of lean gas releases less energy than the combustion of 1m³ of rich gas.
As its name indicates, natural gas is not an industrial product but a natural one. Its composition varies over time and depends on the geological layers in the subsoil of the place of origin. This is why the gas network operators recalculate the calorific value every month.
The Netherlands, where the lean gas that is distributed in Brussels and elsewhere originates, is planning to stop gas production in Slochteren.
Gas reserves are indeed running out and so the Dutch government has decided no longer to supply to Germany, northern France and a third of Belgium. This will be done gradually until 2030. This will give all parties involved sufficient time to make the necessary adjustments.
So from now on, the inhabitants of Brussels will get rich gas. This switch, better known as the conversion from low-calorific (L) to high-calorific (H) gas, will take place in Brussels in 4 phases, i.e. from 2020 to 2022.
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