Netherlands nearly doubles estimated Groningen gas output to secure supply

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A view of a gas production plant is reflected in the roof of a car in 't Zand in Groningen February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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AMSTERDAM, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The Dutch government expects to increase the amount of gas it allows to be produced from the Groningen gas field to up to 7.6 billion cubic meters (BCM), from an earlier estimate of 3.9 BCM.

The Netherlands had been winding down production at Groningen, once Europe's largest gas field, for years due to damage and safety concerns over earthquakes it triggers.

But the Economic Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the increase would be needed to guarantee security of supplies and it would make a final decision in April.

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The ministry cited a delay in bringing a plant online needed to convert imported "high calorie" gas from Norway and Russia, as well as more demand than expected from German customers.

NAM, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), operates production at Groningen.

The government first flagged in November the possibility it might have to allow the increase for this gas production year, which runs from October 2021 to September 2022. read more

The ministry repeated that it does not currently expect to produce any more gas from Groningen "from mid-2022".

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Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Chris Reese and Alexander Smith

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