No further Groningen gas cuts despite earthquakes: Minister
The Dutch government has no plans to change the amount of gas extracted out of Groningen this year, wrote Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp earlier this week. The current level of 39.4 billion cubic meters was recently introduced to reduce the risk of earthquake, and that will remain in effect for now. Simultaneously, he also noted that, "studies have all made it clear that we can no longer maintain the assumption that the maximum magnitude of earthquakes from gas extraction in the Groningen field would be 3.9 on the Richter scale. Tremors greater than 3.9 are possible," he wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament. Opposition party MPs have voiced their concerns, urging Kamp to cut the amount to 30 billion cubic meters due to earthquake risks. Government coalition partner PvdA is also pushing for more cuts in the run up to this year's provincial elections. At a hearing in the Tweede Kamer on Wednesday, experts suggested that the risk of earthquake in the north of the country would decrease if gas production was decreased. "Specifically, the [State Supervision of Mines] has advised me to urge the NAM 'to reduce gas extraction in the Groningen field as quickly and as much as is feasibly possible,'" Kamp wrote. "Before coming to a decision on this advice I will need to take careful consideration of the various interests and ensure it is based on all the information available." According to some MPs, a reduced amount of 30 billion cubic meters would produce sufficient revenue for Dutch export and domestic demand of gas. They call for the safety of Groningen to be of paramount importance in making this decision. The Tweede Kamer will debate Kamp's decision in February.