The Dutch government wants to halt gas extraction in Groningen much earlier than originally planned. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate now thinks that gas extraction in the earthquake-ridden province can be stopped by mid-2022, instead of in 2030, NOS reports.
A large gas explosion in The Hague in January shows that cast iron gas pipelines pose a risk to the entire Netherlands, the state supervision on mines SodM concluded after investigating the explosion in the crawl space of the Hague apartment building. There are still 3,830 kilometers of dangerous gas pipelines in the Netherlands, and network operators must remove and replace these pipelines more quickly, the SodM said, NOS reports.
The repair and reinforcement of homes that suffered serious damage as a result of gas extraction earthquakes in Groningen, needs to be speeded up, the state supervision on mines SoDM said in advice to Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs, RTL Nieuws reports.
An earthquake was felt in Groningen on Thursday afternoon. According to meteorological institute KNMI, the quake had a magnitude of 2.0 and it's epicenter was near Loppersum at a depth of 3 kilometers.
The quake happened around 4:30 p.m., according to broadcaster NOS. Dozens of people from Loppersum, Zeerijp and Garrelsweer reported feeling it. The KNMI called it an 'induced' earthquake, which means that it was caused by gas extraction.
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.
Gas extraction in Groningen must be halved to a maximum of 12 billion cubic meters a year in order to stop fracking earthquakes and guarantee safety in the province, the state supervisor on mines SoDM said in a recommendation to Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate on Thursday. The Loppersum clusters must close immediately, the SoDM said, RTL Nieuws reports.
Almost all parties in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, demanded that Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate come up with a protocol for handling earthquake damage caused by gas extraction in Groningen within two weeks. Wiebes will make haste on such a protocol, but can not give a time frame for when it will be ready, he said in a parliamentary debate on the matter on Tuesday, NOS reports.
Last year the Dutch government made 2.4 billion euros from natural gas extraction - almost 3 billion euros less than in 2015 and the lowest level since 1975, according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands on Wednesday.
The decrease can partly be attributed to decreased gas extraction due to the risk of earthquakes, according to the statistics office. Lower gas prices also played a role - last year the producer prices were halved compared to 2013.
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.
A small earthquake occurred in Appingedam, 20 kilometers northeast of Groningen, Nieuws.nl reports quoting a spokesman for the KNMI.
The earthquakes in Groningen can become more powerful than they have been until now. The authorities concerned, don't rule out the possibility of earthquakes with a magnitude between 4.5 and 6.0 on the Richter scale, in the future.