February 14, 2018 / 3:48 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Germany's EWE plans to cut Groningen gas use by 75 percent

(Adds details, background)

AMSTERDAM, Feb 14 (Reuters) - German energy company EWE plans to sharply reduce its use of gas from the Groningen field in the Netherlands, as the Dutch government seeks ways to drastically cut production at the earthquake-prone field.

EWE expects to cut its demand for Groningen gas by 1.7 billion cubic metres (bcm) annually by the end of next year, a 75 percent reduction, the Netherlands’ Economic Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

EWE, which imports gas from Groningen to Germany, plans to convert higher calorific gas from other Dutch fields to the low-calorific gas its infrastructure is built for.

The Dutch government said earlier this month it would cut production in Groningen by 44 percent, to 12 bcm annually, “as quickly as possible” to limit seismic risks in the region.

To meet this target, the government has urged large industrial users and energy companies in the Netherlands to stop using Groningen gas by 2022, while talks were opened with foreign buyers to see if they can reduce their dependence on the low-calorific gas.

Economic Affairs minister Eric Wiebes called EWE’s plan “a big step”, as he seeks to present a list of possibilities to lower gas production by the end of next month.

Earthquakes related to the decades of gas production remain a constant factor in Groningen, where three relatively small tremors were reported in the last week.

These prompted gas sector regulator SodM on Wednesday to demand a new report on possible measures to increase safety from production company NAM. This report, however, is not expected to bring new insights after the measures announced earlier this month. (Reporting by Toby Sterling and Bart Meijer; Editing by Susan Fenton and Adrian Croft)

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