Much more gas extracted

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In the past year more gas has been extracted from the Groningen soil again. The latest projections from the Dutch Oil Company (NAM) indicate between 54 and 55 billion cubic meters of gas have been extracted. That is more than the national inspectorate State Supervision of Mines has advised.Early 2013 State Supervision on the Mines advised to decrease the gas drilling as fast as possible because of the increasing number of stronger earth quakes in Groningen. A production decrease of for instance 30 percent would already result in 30 percent less earth quakes.

Gas Pipeline / Wikipedia

Minister Kamp is expected to announce mid January whether the production will be limited.

The Dutch Oil Company blames the increase in gas production namely on the colder spring. Statistics from energy providers EON and Essent indicate their customers used 10 to 25 percent more gas.

'In the period January to September 2013 the usage was about 20 percent higher than normal because of the cold weather, but the extraordinary mild October month and the very warm December month brought the average down to 10 percent,' according to a spokesperson for Essent.

In January 2011 Minister Verhagen from Economic Affairs established a production ceiling for the Groningen field of 425 billion cubic meters for the period 2011 up to 2020. That makes for a yearly average of 42,5 cubic meters.

The NAM, a joint venture of Shell and Exxon, also exceeded that number by a considerable margin in the past two years. In 2012 47.7 cubic meters were extracted and in 2011 46.7 cubic meters. Every 5 years the production agreements are evaluated to prevent the Groningen field to be drained too quickly.

The gas from the Groningen field is unique in the Netherlands because of its composition. The so-called low-calorific gas is found only in the soil in Groningen. It is used by Dutch households, but also exported to countries such as Belgium, France, Italy and Germany.

How much is exported to these countries is unknown, because the information is kept secret by the NAM, Gasterra, and the State. It specifically concerns gas from the Groningen field, which is sold by Gasterra.

Companies that signed a contract with Gasterra may purchase a maximum amount of cubic meters for the duration of their contract, but it may be more one year, and less another.

When customers expect a cold period they may ask for more gas, as long as they don't go over the maximum.

Last month it was already announced less gas was flowing through the Dutch pipe lines compared to the previous year. More than 60 percent of the gas is delivered to surrounding countries.