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Earthquake with 2.0-magnitude hits Groningen gas field despite Loppersum output halt

London — An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.0 hit the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands late Thursday, the second-biggest tremor this year, according to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

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The quake hit the Loppersum area of the Groningen field and was confirmed by the KNMI to have been triggered by gas extraction.

Groningen operator NAM halted production at all five Loppersum areas at the giant onshore field on February 2 in response to a request from the Dutch Economy Minister Eric Wiebes to close the Loppersum clusters on the heels of a 3.4-magnitude quake on January 8.

Wiebes said that even with the permanent closure of the Loppersum areas "long-term security of supply would still be guaranteed," based on advice from grid operator Gasunie.

Production of Dutch gas from the Netherlands jumped on Tuesday to the highest level since January 9, the day after the 3.4-magnitude Groningen quake, on high demand caused by colder weather.

Dutch gas production, including Groningen and other smaller fields, reached 144.76 million cu m on Tuesday, from 132 million cu m on Monday, data from S&P Global Platts Analytics showed.

The Loppersum cluster, which contains five production areas (De Paauwen, Leermens, Overschild, Ten Post and 't Zandt) has been the hardest hit of all the four major production clusters by the production caps imposed at the field since the beginning of 2014.

NAM data showed that the Loppersum area produced 17.134 Bcm of L-cal gas in 2013 before posting an 85% annual fall in 2014 to just 2.586 Bcm, with production within all five areas dropping sharply.

As a result, Loppersum accounted for only 6% of total Groningen production in 2014 compared with 32% in 2013.

Loppersum production has dropped further in recent years, with 806 million cu m produced in 2017 compared with 1.005 Bcm in 2016 and 1.658 Bcm in 2015.

--Stuart Elliott,
--Edited by James Leech,