Netherlands gas fields begin closing in earthquake aftermath

Gas production in Loppersum, Groningen has been shut down with immediate effect, Dutch petroleum company NAM announced on Friday. Closing the Loppersum gas fields immediately was one of the measures the state supervisor on mines SoDM advised following an earthquake in the region last month, the strongest earthquake to hit Groningen in five years.

On Thursday Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate asked NAM to stop gas extraction at the Loppersum gas fields "as soon as reasonably possible", as per the SoDM's advice. "NAM immediately responded to the order that the Minister gave to stop the 5 Loppersum clusters. As can be seen on the image, the production from those clusters is now 0", NAM said on Twitter. 

In addition to Loppersum, NAM also wants to close production at the Eemskanaal location, according to 

On Thursday the SoDM presented a series of measures the regulator considers necessary to reduce fracking earthquakes in Groningen. This included closing the Loppersum gas fields immediately, and reducing the total gas extraction in the province by half - from 21.6 billion cubic meters per year to 12 billion.

Later in the day Wiebes stated that this advice will be followed in the long term. "We have to go to 12 billion cubic meters. That is almost a halving. It will be a huge social task", he said. 

The closing of the Loppersum clusters could be done more quickly, because little gas was being extracted from Loppersum and its surroundings and it therefore does not affect supply guarantee.