AMSTERDAM, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Dutch gas producer NAM said on Friday it had halted all production at the Loppersum site in the Groningen field following an earthquake in the region last month.
Economy minister Eric Wiebes instructed NAM on Thursday to halt production at the five production points which form the Loppersum site to limit seismic risks, following recommendations by the Dutch gas sector regulator.
Production at the five Loppersum clusters was already limited to around 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year, in an effort to reduce the number of earthquakes caused by decades of gas extraction.
Fluctuations in the production at Loppersum, however, were marked by the regulator as a possible cause for the strongest earthquake in years that hit on Jan. 8.
That 3.4 magnitude tremor led the government to look for ways to further limit Groningen production, after already cutting it by 60 percent from a 2013 peak following a string of earthquakes caused by decades of extraction.
Wiebes on Thursday said he would follow the regulator's advise to cut production to 12 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year, from the current cap of 21.6 bcm, as quickly as possible.
Reducing production to that level could take several years, as many Dutch households and factories still depend on gas from the Groningen field. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)