NLD: Production at Groningen will be terminatedObserved seismic events with magnitude above ML=1.0 from January 2014 to March 2016. Source: TNO

NLD: Production at Groningen will be terminated

Earthquakes and regional safety, represent the main reasons for the Dutch Cabinet to decide reduction and further cessation of gas extraction from the Groningen field.

According to the Dutch Government, the natural gas extraction level will be reduced to below 77 Mboe, no later than October 2022 and possibly even one year sooner.

Depending on the impact of the measures, extraction after October 2022 is expected to decrease to at least 48 Mboe and possibly to substantially less than that. In subsequent years, it will gradually be reduced to zero.

This is the message of a letter by Minister Wiebes of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate about natural gas extraction in the Dutch province of Groningen, to which the Dutch Council of Ministers agreed. The consequences of the extraction are no longer socially acceptable, according to Cabinet.

The resulting earthquakes are damaging homes and other buildings and cause uncertainty among the occupants. In addition, the required reinforcements also have great consequences for the visual impression of the province.

By removing the cause of the earthquakes, the level of safety in the area will improve, substantially, according to the Dutch Cabinet.

Over a span of five years, gas extraction from the Groningen gas field was progressively reduced from 346 Mboe in 2013 to 129 Mboe in 2018.

The maximum production from 2018 through October 2019 was capped at 125 Mboe but was revised downward to 82 Mboe after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake in Groningen in May 2019.

a) The difference in production between 2015 and 2013. Green indicates a lower level in 2015 compared to 2014, red a higher level, both with a maximum of 12.6 boe. b) The difference in earthquakes event density between 2015 and 2013. Green indicates a lower level in 2015 compared to 2014, red a higher level, both with a maximum of 0.3 events per km2. Source: TNO 2016 R10425 Groninger field 2013 to present report

The NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij) joint venture between ExxonMobil (interest 50%) and Shell (interest 50%), in partnership with the Dutch government, operate the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands.

According to NAM, gas production has caused earthquakes that damaged houses and other properties and caused many people in Groningen to feel unsafe.

Agreeing on a way forward

The Dutch government is responsible for setting production rates and balancing the risk of earth tremors with the supply of gas needed to meet energy demand from the field. The government is also responsible for all issues related to damage claims handling and the strengthening of buildings. NAM remains responsible for operating the field and paying all earthquake-related costs.

Groningen gas field 

The Groningen gas field is a giant natural gas field located near Slochteren, Groningen province in the northeastern part of the Netherlands. Discovered in 1959, it is the largest natural gas field in Europe and the ninth-largest in the world.

The field is a faulted anticline, situated at a depth of about 3,000 m. The sandstone reservoir, called the Slochteren Formation, lies on top of the mature, coal-rich Carboniferous source rock. The seal is provided by the thick Zechstein salt. The sediments composing the reservoir were deposited in a desert environment during the Permian epoch. The reservoir is between 100 and 300 m thick, is very homogeneous and has excellent porosity and permeability. Originally, the gas field contained about 16714 Mboe.

Groningen Gas Field. Source: IEA 2000