August 27, 2019 / 10:12 PM / 22 days ago

Dutch to end Groningen gas production quicker than predicted -minister

AMSTERDAM, Aug 27 (Reuters) - The Dutch government will end production at the vast Groningen natural gas field sooner than previously announced, Dutch Economy Minister Eric Wiebes said on Tuesday.

"I expect the Groningen field to no longer be necessary very soon", Wiebes said in an interview on Dutch public radio.

"Things are moving very fast, a lot faster than anyone would have predicted some time ago."

Output at Europe's largest onshore gas field, operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp, has been slashed in recent years as tremors blamed on drilling have damaged buildings and sparked unrest in the region.

Following a 3.4 magnitude earthquake, the government vowed last year to halt output at Groningen by 2030 and lower production as quickly as possible in the coming years.

Wiebes indicated on Tuesday the end of extraction would come a lot sooner than by the end of the next decade and said he would inform parliament soon on the exact date.

"We used to think that production would go on forever, then I said it would end by 2030, and I will soon say when it will end exactly", the minister said.

The Dutch government said in June that output at Groningen looked set to drop 20% more than previously announced, to 12.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the year starting October 2019. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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