January 10, 2018 / 5:04 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Dutch firm calls for gas production cut after Groningen quake

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AMSTERDAM, Jan 10 (Reuters) - An earthquake this week prompted Dutch gas company NAM to propose halting production at six points in the Groningen gas field and lowering overall production on Wednesday.

The Dutch government has cut gas production several times in recent years, as decades of extraction have led to dozens of earthquakes every year in the Groningen region, causing damage to thousands of buildings and homes.

NAM did not specify on Wednesday how much production should be cut this time, as final decisions on production at Groningen must be taken by the country's energy minister.

But the Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil joint venture, which operates the Groningen field, did say a "substantial" cut would be desirable to make people in the region feel safer.

The proposal follows a magnitude 3.4 tremor in the Groningen region on Monday, the largest in recent years, after which Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Eric Wiebes said that output in Groningen should be reduced "by as much as possible" during the current government term, which runs to 2021.

Production at Groningen was lowered by 10 percent last October, to 21.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year.

And the coalition government under Prime Minister Mark Rutte has already agreed to reduce output to around 20 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2021. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by David Evans and Alexander Smith)

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