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Dutch gas production hits highest level since Groningen earthquakes

* Netherlands produced 144.76 mil cu m of gas Tuesday

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* H-cal to L-cal gas conversion at two-month high

* Demand at 12-month high, with the chance for this to continue Production of natural gas from the Netherlands on Tuesday jumped to thehighest level since January 9, the day after the most recent Groningen areaearthquakes, with increases in H-cal to L-cal gas conversion in an attempt tomatch rising demand, data from S&P Global Platts Analytics showed.

Dutch gas production, including from Groningen and other smaller fields,hit 144.76 million cu m on Tuesday, compared with 132 million cu m on Monday.

Variations in production levels from the Groningen field could havepotential affects on earthquake activity in the region, according to a reportby the gas regulator, the State Supervisor of Mines.

As a result, limiting production variations was one of the proposals theregulator has suggested the economy minister implements in a final decision onproduction restraints by March.

A 3.4-magnitude earthquake hit the northern Dutch province of Groningenon January 8, the biggest since 2012, followed by a report saying that theearthquake was related to gas extraction.

On the day of the earthquake, total Dutch gas production was 157 millioncu m, up from just 122 million cu m on January 3.

L-cal gas produced from Groningen is used as a domestic fuel in theNetherlands for residential heating as well as in the industrial sector, withthe Netherlands also exporting L-cal gas for domestic use to Germany, Belgiumand France.

Domestic gas demand in the Netherlands rose to 176.94 million cu m onTuesday, split between H-cal gas at 63.88 million cu m and L-cal gas at 113.06million cu m, the highest this winter season.

Flows of L-cal gas from the Netherlands to Germany and Belgium alsoramped up Tuesday, to 71.23 million cu m and 39.85 million cu m, respectively.

To meet higher demand, a total of 81.11 million cu m of H-cal gas wasconverted to L-cal gas on Tuesday, the highest since December 14, data fromGasunie showed.

In the Netherlands, there is as much as 29-34 Bcm/year (gas qualitydepending) of conversion capacity, split between 10-11 Bcm/year at mixingstations and 19-23 Bcm/year at blending stations, leaving little room forlarge reductions in Groningen production without boosting conversion capacityin the country.

The trend of rising demand is set to extend throughout the week on theback of a cold spell, with S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasting averagedemand of 164 million cu m/d Wednesday through Friday.

--Karen Kwok, karen.kwok@spglobal.com

--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com