Groningen gas output can be cut by more than 50%, government says

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Gas production at the Netherlands’ Groningen natural gas field can be cut to 3.9 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the year from October 2021, which is set to be its final year of regular extraction, the government said on Thursday.

A main supply of gas for Europe for decades, Groningen’s output hit a peak of 88 bcm in 1976 but a series of tremors caused by work there have damaged local buildings and prompted plans to end production.

The Dutch state in 2019 announced output at Groningen would end by mid-2022 to limit seismic risks in the region, with gas only to be extracted thereafter in the event of extreme weather conditions, for which a few sites will remain on stand-by.

Production is expected to fall to 8.1 bcm in the year through October 2021, the government said, with a recent cold spell not changing that outlook.

The government will take a final decision on 2021/2022 production by September.

Discovered in 1959, the Groningen field is run by Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil joint venture NAM.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely