The Dutch Council of State [official website, in Dutch] on Wednesday ordered [judgment, in Dutch; press release, in Dutch] more cuts in gas production. The court came to this decision after stronger and more frequent earthquakes occurred in the Netherlands as a result of extraction. The Groningen [BBC backgrounder], the field in question, will be capped at 22 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year from 33 bcm, due to the government’s failure to weight public safety risks after earthquakes caused extensive damage in the Netherlands’ northernmost province. Due to the Groningen supplying 15 percent of Europe’s gas, the Court ruled [Reuters report] “should it turn out to be a relatively cold year, the maximum gas extraction can be raised to 33 billion cubic metres.” The government has twice this year reduced production from its original target of 39.4 bcm. The ruling applies to all production through October 2016.
The environmental impact of natural gas production, particularly hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder] has been controversial around the world. In September a Dutch court ruled [JURIST report] that the Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil joint venture must pay homeowners for property damage caused by gas drilling related earthquakes. In June New York implemented a ban [JURIST report] on the practice. In March the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill [JURIST report] to place a three-year moratorium on fracking in the state. Also in March US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced [JURIST report] the publication of a rule regulating fracking on federal land. In January Scotland announced [JURIST report] a moratorium on the granting of permits for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking amid environmental and health concerns.