Groningen Gas Output Cut To Be Examined-Dutch Regulator


AMSTERDAM, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Dutch gas regulator will respond on Thursday to proposals to reduce output from the Groningen gas field following a tremor there this week, though a spokeswoman said it would not immediately specify how much production should be cut.

Monday's tremor prompted operator NAM to propose halting production at six points at Groningen and lowering its overall production.

The regulatory State Supervision of Mines said it would conduct a survey into how to reduce production and then advise the energy minister who has the final decision.

The government has lowered output from Groningen several times in recent years, as decades of extraction have triggered dozens of earthquakes each year in the region, causing damage to thousands of homes and buildings.

Monday's 3.4 tremor was the largest in years and prompted NAM to propose a "substantial" cut in production.

However, lowering production will not put an end to all earthquakes, NAM said, as fluctuation in production levels increase seismic risks.

NAM, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, said as a basic rule each year a 10 percent cut could prevent two or three earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 1.5.

Production at Groningen was lowered by 10 percent last October to 21.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year and the government has agreed to reduce that to around 20 bcm by 2021. Production stood at 54 bcm in 2013.

Four of the six production points which NAM proposed to shut are already running at a minimum level of around 1 bcm combined per year. NAM did not specify the current production at the other two clusters.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Susan Fenton and Jason Neely)


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