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Dutch to shut Europe’s biggest gas field after quakes

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands said on Friday it would end production at Europe’s largest gas field on October 1 after years of earthquakes, despite global energy worries sparked by Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Wells at the massive Groningen field in the northern Netherlands will remain open for one more year in case of a cold winter but then be shut down forever, the government said.

Residents near the huge site, which opened in 1965, have complained for more than two decades of being terrorised by quakes directly attributed to drilling operations. “We are really turning off the tap,” said the Dutch minister for extractive industries Hans Vijlbrief. The decision was an “important moment after decades of gas extraction,” he added.

“The problems of Groningen residents have not yet been solved and unfortunately the earthquakes will continue for years to come, but the source of all misery will be closed from October.”

The Netherlands first said five years ago that it would close the site by 2030 due to the increasingly severe quakes, which damaged homes and traumatised locals.

Although gas extraction from the field has been almost cut to zero over the last few years, the Dutch government kept the site operational due to the global energy uncertainties.

But Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Cabinet decided at a meeting on Friday to completely end production by October 1.

Support beams stabilise a historic farm in Hunzinge, northern Netherlands. PHOTO: AP