Groningen gas taps are closed again as big freeze lifts

A gas drilling site. Photo: Graham Dockery

Gas taps at two locations in Groningen have been closed again, just days after they were opened as a precaution because of the freezing temperatures.

A small volume of gas was extracted at the locations in Spitsbergen en Scheemderzwaag to make sure the system still worked in case there were supply issues from other sources, mines minister Hans Vijlbrief said.

Given the temperature is not expected to drop below -6.5° in the coming two weeks, the taps can now be closed again, he told MPs on Thursday.

The decision to reopen the taps led to strong criticism from campaign groups in the province who have been fighting for compensation for the damage caused to property by gas extraction-related subsidence.

More than 1,600 earthquakes have been triggered by drilling since the 1980s, damaging 85,000 buildings.

Groningen gas production officially ended in October. However, the government retained the option to keep five drilling locations open for a year to deal with potential cold spells that threaten to interfere with gas supplies.

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