15 April 2015, News Wires – A Dutch judge has reportedly ordered a production halt at the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands, amid local protests over earthquakes allegedly linked to extraction work.
Judge Thijs Drupstreen said in a preliminary ruling on Tuesday that he would order “for the time being” a production standstill near the village of Loppersum in the northern province, where the Groningen gas field is located, Reuters reported.
“For the time being, gas may be extracted in and around Loppersum only if extraction from other locations is no longer possible and if necessary for the security of supply,” a court statement said.
Judge Drupsteen also said he was ordering the government’s approval of the extraction plan submitted by Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij – a joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil- to be “partially suspended”, according to a Reuters report.
He ordered production stops at the Zandt, Overschild, De Paauwen, Ten Post and Leermens clusters, Reuters reported.
The ruling follows a lawsuit launched by citizens’ groups who are challenging a decision by Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp to reduce output from the field to 39.4 billion cubic metres this year, down from 42.5 Bcm in 2014, and are demanding a complete production stoppage.
After the Dutch Safety Board found in February that the government failed to adequately consider the threat to citizens from the earthquakes, local production at the field has become increasingly controversial.
The court debate focused on production at Loppersum, where the risk of earthquakes is greatest and production has already been cut by 80%, and Eemskanaal, where there are vulnerable dikes.