Heavy earthquake warning forces further gas extraction cuts in Groningen

The Dutch government is reducing gas extraction in Groningen by a further 10 percent based on advice from the State supervision on mines SodM that this is the only way to reduce the chance of heavy earthquakes in the region, Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs announced on Tuesday. This year 24 billion cubic meters of gas can be extracted in Groningen, as of October 1st that will be reduced to 21.6 billion cubic meters, NU.nl reports.

In its advice the SodM wrote that "only further reduction of gas production from the Groningen field simultaneous with avoiding fluctuations in the production" can reduce the chance and severity of earthquakes in the region. The SodM recommends a 10 percent reduction to 21.6 billion cubic meters to start with "and see how seismicity then develops". A drastic reduction in gas extraction could also increase te chance of earthquakes. 

The departing Economic Minister decided not to wait until October to announce te gas extraction decision for 2018. This is partly because the number of earthquakes in the area around Loppersum is on the rise again. Kamp is therefore starting preparations to reduce the gas extraction limit by 10 percent for the next "gas year", which starts on October 1st. 

In 2015 Kamp reduced gas extraction in Groningen from 42 billion cubic meters to 30 billion cubic meters. Last year it was dropped to 24 billion cubic meters. This year the reduced gas production will cost the cabinet 80 million euros, according to NU.nl.