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Dutch regulator recommends maximum 12 Bcm from Groningen in 2019/20

London — The Dutch State Supervision of Mines (SodM) has recommended that the production cap at the Groningen natural gas field in the Netherlands be cut to 12 Bcm for Gas Year 2019/20 following an earthquake at Westerwijtwerd last week, the agency said Tuesday.

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"From the point of view of safety, SodM therefore recommends that in the following gas year, with an average winter, not more than 12 Bcm be extracted from the Groningen gas field," it said.

SodM also said it was recommending "extracting less than the 15.9 Bcm that Gasunie Transport Services advised on the basis of security of supply", adding that security of supply must be "weighted against the risks and impact that gas extraction entails for the people of Groningen".

Production at the Groningen gas field has been capped since the beginning of 2014 on environmental grounds, as earthquakes caused by the extraction process increased in frequency and damaged infrastructure in the surrounding area.

The production cap for the current gas year stands at 19.4 Bcm -- of which 11.11 Bcm has been extracted since the October 1 start, according to operator NAM -- and was due to be reduced to 15.9 Bcm for Gas Year 2019/20 (starting October 1), before being phased out completely before 2030.

Pricing on the TTF hub was little changed, with the Winter 2019 contract steady at Eur19.50/MWh and the Calendar 2020 contract rising slightly to be seen trading at Eur18.92/MWh.

-- Gary Hornby, gary.hornby@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com