The energy sector is probably facing the biggest challenge it has ever had to face. The world has definitely started out on a new path with the COP 21 Climate Conference that was held in Paris in 2015. The fact that all EU Member States have committed themselves to the two degrees target is a real breakthrough but, in order to achieve that target, we have to curb the rise in temperature and therefore the emissions. This means that we share a common responsibility to ensure a smooth transition to a CO2-neutral energy supply. Gas can make a constructive and effective contribution to this now and in the future. This Annual Report contains various examples of this.
In the Netherlands, the debate about the future of the energy supply has been dominated by the earthquakes caused by gas extraction in Groningen. What also needs to be said about this is that this changes the existing order fundamentally. There is no business as usual in the Dutch gas sector and, in my opinion, never will be again. The earthquakes have had a huge impact. Furthermore, millions of households in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium, who are dependent on natural gas from Groningen to heat their homes, must be able to continue to rely on the gas they use to keep their houses warm. All in all a balancing act will be required to keep the interests of all parties involved in equilibrium.
What do these new realities mean for GasTerra? It was and is our mission to maximise the value of natural gas reserves in the Netherlands. Our strategy therefore remains essentially the same: to sell the gas offered to us at the highest possible price. Since 2014, however, the volume has been tied to an annual production maximum: the Groningen ceiling. An overview of the years 2013–2015 clearly shows how much recent events in the Groningen Gas Field have affected us, the seller of Groningen gas. GasTerra's turnover was substantially higher three years ago than in the year under review. Income fell from €24.3 billion in 2013 to €19.5 billion in 2014 and €14.7 billion in 2015: a downturn of approximately 40%. This decrease is firstly the result of the maximising of production from the Groningen Gas Field and the steadily decreasing production from the small fields but, in addition to that, it is due to low gas prices.
The falling volumes and sales have not left the organisation of GasTerra unscathed. In last year's Annual Report I stated that we were embarking on a process of reorganisation and cost savings. The accompanying organisational changes were completed in the autumn of 2015. The aim is to reduce costs by around 30% by 2018. Fortunately we are able to do this without compulsory redundancies. Still it is inevitable that employees are facing uncertain times. Departments have merged and are becoming smaller and positions have become redundant. Despite this new reality for GasTerra, our staff have worked hard again to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves at the beginning of the reporting year. In that light they deserve to be complimented warmly for their unwavering motivation and undiminished efforts.