(Adds production level of small fields, background)
AMSTERDAM, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Friday it would not increase output at its small gas fields to compensate for halting production at Groningen in coming years.
The Netherlands last month said it would halt production at Groningen, Europe’s largest onshore natural gas field, by 2022, eight years earlier than initially planned.
Groningen produced nearly 54 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in 2013, before tremors caused by drilling damaged buildings and prompted a series of lowered caps on output and protests by residents and campaigners.
Economic Affairs Minister Eric Wiebes told parliament on Friday the ending of gas extraction at Groningen in 2022 would not lead to higher production from the 240 small gas fields in the Netherlands.
“The volume will in fact decrease”, a statement said.
The output of the small fields, which together deliver around half of total Dutch gas production, dropped 5% to around 20 bcm in 2018.
It is projected to fall to 15 bcm next year and to between 5 and 10 bcm by the end of the decade.
Drilling at the smaller fields, half of which are located under the North Sea, occasionally also causes damage, but to a much lesser extent than at the vast Groningen field.
On average the small fields lead to around 15 reports of damage per year, while around 26,000 incidents were reported in the Groningen region in the past 18 months. (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Bart Meijer; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Evans)