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What is the difference between rich and lean gas? Does this have an impact on my bill?

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.

However, this difference does not have any impact on your bill, as your supplier bases this on the quantity of energy that you have actually used and not on the quantity of gas supplied to you. After all, your bill is calculated on the basis of the amount of energy (number of kWh), and not on  the amount of gas you have consumed (number of m³).

Different gases, but a fair rate for everyone

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.

Rich gas

Rich/lean gas

  • comes mainly from Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany or Qatar
  • contains an average of 11.4 kWh per m³

Lean gas 

  • is distributed not only in Brussels, but also in the provinces of Antwerp and Brabant
  • comes from The Netherlands (Slochteren)
  • contains an average of 10.3 kWh per m³ (type of gas that is found in Brussels)

The combustion of 1m³ of lean gas releases less energy than the combustion of 1m³ of rich gas.

Why are there different types of natural 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.

Gradually, no more lean gas in Belgium

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.

Read more on Gas changes, the regional website of Brussels
Or go to the federal website of the government

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