Groningen Gas, Netherlands

The biggest gas field in Europe has caused more than 1000 earthquakes. The houses of up to 100,000 people have been damaged, some of them beyond repair. Shell, Exxon and the Dutch state owned company EBN refuse to fully compensate


Description
The Groningen field is Europe's biggest gasfield. Supplying low caloric gas to households, buildings and greenhouses for heating in the Netherlands, and parts of Germany, Belgium and France. It is operated by Shell, in a joint venture with Exxon Mobile and Dutch State company EBN. On 22 July 1959, the Slochteren 1 well, drilling to a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), discovered the huge 2.8 trillion cubic meters (100 trillion cubic feet) gas field in the porous Rotliegend sandstone formation, which is 130 metres (430 ft) to 140 metres (460 ft) thick and 45 kilometres (28 mi) long from north to south by 25 kilometres (16 mi) long from east to west. The field started production in 1963 and produced around 100 billion cubic meters (3.57 trillion cubic feet) per year in the first decade of production but gradually the annual production fell to around 35 billion cubic meters (1.25 trillion cubic feet) per year.   Since 1986 earthquakes are felt in Groningen. At first Shell denied any link with the gasfield, but after a few years they acknowledged that the depletion of the gasfield might cause 'minor tremors' In 2012 a 3.6M earthquake occurred. The Dutch Mining Authority ordered that gas production should be shut in 'as much as possible and as quickly as possible' . The year after production was ramped up to 54 BCM. In succeeding years political pressure, court cases and actions managed to cap in production at 24BCM (2017).   Experts suggest 12BCM would be a safe upper limit, but several groups are campaigning to shut down the gas field completely.  The earthquakes are caused by the depletion of the field. The field pressure has dropped so much that the formation is shrinking. Causing a lowering on surface level of about 1 meter over the long run, and over a 1000 small earthquakes. Although at a low level on the Richter scale they cause a huge amount of damage. They come from a low depth (3km) , are frequent and are amplified by the clay surface.   The Netherlands is still the EU's biggest gas producer. Next to the Groningen gas field there are 250 smaller gas fields, mainly supplying high caloric natural gas.
Basic Data
NameGroningen Gas, Netherlands
CountryNetherlands
ProvinceGroningen
SiteGroningen
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOn 22 July 1959, the Slochteren 1 well, drilling to a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), discovered the huge 2.8 trillion cubic meters (100 trillion cubic feet) gas field in the porous Rotliegend sandstone formation, which is 130 metres (430 ft) to 140 metres (460 ft) thick and 45 kilometres (28 mi) long from north to south by 25 kilometres (16 mi) long from east to west. The field started production in 1963 and produced around 100 billion cubic meters (3.57 trillion cubic feet) per year in the first decade of production but gradually the annual production fell to around 35 billion cubic meters (1.25 trillion cubic feet) per year.
Project Area (in hectares)90,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population100.000
Start Date26/12/1986
Company Names or State EnterprisesEnergie Beheer Nederland (EBN) from Netherlands - Groningen gas
Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) from Netherlands
ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America
Relevant government actorsMinisterie van Economische Zaken (https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/aardbevingen-in-groningen)

Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen ( https://www.sodm.nl/onderwerpen/aardbevingen-groningen )
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMilieudefensie (www.milieudefensie.nl/gas )

Groninger Bodem Beweging (www.groninger-bodem-beweging.nl)

GroenFront! (www.groenfront.nl)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
OtherInduced Earthquakes
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherHuge loss in property value, economic loss,
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Institutional changes
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesShut down the gasfield and create sustainable heating in all buildings in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

And repair and compensate the damage without the interference of Shell.

Give the area a new economic future
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Outcome still undecided although important victories are won.
Sources and Materials
References

De Stille beving (movie)
[click to view]

Links

Visuals blog by Kor Dwarshuis about Groningen
[click to view]

The Guardian - Shell and Exxon's €5bn problem: gas drilling that sets off earthquakes and wrecks homes
[click to view]

BBC News - Groningen gas fields - the Dutch earthquake zone
[click to view]

The Energy Collective - Groningen Gas Production and Earthquakes: Safety at All Cost?
[click to view]

Media Links

Since the gas field was discovered in the region of Groningen in the 50's, a lot of earthquakes have hit the province. The debate about stopping the gas extraction is now being held. What do Groningen people think about this? Should the gas company and the Government stop the extraction?
[click to view]

Other Documents

Groningen Gasverzet
[click to view]

Everyday I’m just picking up pieces of bricks and stuff from the ceiling’ … Heite’s earthquake-damaged family home. Photograph: Hans Knikman/Demotix
Source: The Guardian
[click to view]

A NAM gas drilling site A NAM gas drilling site in Groningen. In the past three years NAM has received more than 50,000 compensation claims from houses damaged by earthquakes. Photograph: Hans Knikman/Demotix
Source: The Guardian
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMilieudefensie [email protected]
Last update17/03/2017
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