Groningen hit by new earthquake: ‘I thought everything was collapsing’

groningen earthquake damageAn earthquake measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale hit northern parts of Groningen province on Tuesday night and was felt in the provincial capital itself.

The epicenter of the quake was about 20 kilometres from Groningen city, in the heart of the Loppersum district. The earthquakes are caused by the ground settling following the extraction of natural gas from chambers deep under the province.

One resident from the village of Middelstum told local broadcaster RTV Noord: ‘I thought everything was collapsing. Everything fell over in the attic, paintings, glassware… I felt the shaking in my sleep and that made it worse.’


A month ago there were hundreds of reports of damage following a quake measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale. The heaviest yet recorded quake was 3.6 in August 2012.

Locals are campaigning for a better way of assessing quake damage and compensating home owners. The scheme is currently administered by NAM, a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and Exxon/Mobil, which has the gas extraction rights.

NAM said at the beginning of October it has had some 19,000 reports of quake damage so far, and carried out 3,000 street inspections.

At the beginning of this year the government agreed to scale back gas production because of the earthquake risk. Total production, which reached almost 53 billion cubic metres last year, will be cut back around 20% to 42.5 billion cubic metres this year and in 2015.

This will cost the treasury €2.3bn in lost income over the three-year period. In addition, ministers have earmarked an extra €1.2bn for Groningen province to strengthen buildings and the infrastructure.

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