Economic minister Eric Wiebes has given the green light to move forward with gas extraction operations in 11 small fields in Assen and Noord-Drenthe.
Translation by Traci White
RTV Drenthe reports that the decision about gas extraction in Drenthe was formally published on Wednesday. The Westerveld extraction plan, as it is called, entails extracting natural gas from 11 smaller fields.
Residents, municipalities and the province have until the end of December to file objections to the plans. Last year, the minister received hundreds of comments about the operations in the fields and 2,000 residents in Marsdijk signed a petition against gas extraction expansion in the area.
Increased seismic risk
Wiebes’ decision to focus more on Drenthe was prompted in part to relieve pressure on the province of Groningen, which has been suffering from induced earthquakes for decades. Wiebes has called for gas extraction to be capped at 19.4 billion cubic meters through October of 2019.
“On a regional scale, there may be a slight increase in seismic risk in the southern portion of the gas field, but the risk will go down in the centre of the Groninger field”, Wiebes says. Dagblad van het Noorden writes that Wiebes is in talks with representatives in Grootegast, Leek, Zuidhorn and Noord-Drenthe to address the concerns about the planned changes.
Meanwhile, in the province of Groningen, the village of Zuidwolde will be carrying out an earthquake drill on Saturday, 16 November. The Groninger Internet Courant reports that the village in the municipality of Bedum, which is one of the nine municipalities in the province that are regularly impacted by induced earthquakes.
Zuidwolde will be simulating the aftermath of an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 or 5 on the Richter scale to give first responders, villagers and members of the Dutch military to practice responding to a large-scale emergency. On Saturday morning, loud speakers in the village will broadcast the sounds of an earthquake striking the town, and the streets will be filled with collapsed buildings, walls and people pretending to be injured by the quake.
The Northern Times has a new podcast – Econ 050 – about the economy in the north, and one of our first episodes will be a conversation with professor Machiel Mulder all about the future of natural gas in the region, continued dependence on gas as an electricity source and the role of the Dutch state in the industry. You can find the podcast on iTunes and right here on the Northern Times site at econ050.northerntimes.nl