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Netherlands hit by earthquake thanks to Shell and ExxonMobil gas extraction

Staff Writer |
Shell and ExxonMobil will have a legal battle to fight in the Netherlands, after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded Monday afternoon due to gas extraction by their Dutch joint venture, NAM.

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The Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said the quake happened at 3 p.m. on Jan. 8, with the epicentre near Zeerijp, north of Groningen.

“The earthquake was the largest since 2012, and the third worst measured in Groningen,” it added. Shell and ExxonMobil didn’t comment on the quake.

KNMI said 18 earthquakes occurred in the Groningen gas field with a magnitude higher than 1.5 on the Richter scale, confirming Monday’s quake was a “result of gas extraction” in the field operated by NAM, Kallanish Energy reports.

The onshore gas field developed by the 50-50 JV is the largest in Europe, but its output and contribution to the Dutch grid are declining. The government has been capping gas production due to seismic activity. Activists have been protesting against the cuts, saying they aren’t large enough.

The field’s production was capped in November at 21.6 billion cubic meters per year (Bcm/y) to 2021, after a Dutch court ruled the government’s plans to curb production over the next five years were set in an “unacceptable manner.”

The government was then given a 12-month period to reach a new decision regarding the field’s output caps, while NAM was allowed to extract as much as 21.6 Bcm until October 2018.

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