Economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes has given gas company NAM the green light to extract gas from 14 different locations in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe up to 2027, local media have reported.
Wiebes has approved the increase because extraction is being wound down elsewhere in Groningen in an effort to head off the threat of earthquakes. Quakes following years of gas extraction have damaged thousands of homes in the region.
NAM said it expects to mine between 1.3 and 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas, most of which will come from the Eleveld and Vries-Zuid fields. The plans are up for consultation until the end of the year, broadcaster RTV Drenthe said.
The minister has imposed a number of new conditions on NAM in an effort to head off protests. The company has to outline what measures it intends to take if there are earthquakes in the drilling zones and has been told to reproduce a number of houses so proper comparisons can be made.
NAM has also been ordered to consult with water boards and railway company ProRail about any damage to waterways and railway tunnels.
Nevertheless, local campaign group Stop Gaswinning Marsdijk Nu says it will take the issue to the Council of State. ‘As long as the decision is not final, I will not give up,’ campaign leader Gerrit Eerland said.
In preparation for the drilling, nearly every house in the village of Meedhuizen near Delfzijl in Groningen may have to be reinforced, RTV Noord reported.
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