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Magnitude 3.4 quake hits gas field region of north Netherlands

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A 3.4 magnitude earthquake hit the north Dutch region of Groningen, home to one of Europe’s largest natural gas fields, early on Wednesday, Dutch meteorology institute KNMI said.

Decades of gas extraction have led to dozens of minor tremors every year in Groningen, damaging thousands of homes, sparking unrest among locals and prompting authorities to impose caps on activity.

Wednesday’s earthquake is among the most severe to ever hit the region but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

After a similarly severe quake in January 2018, the Dutch government pledged to end production by 2030 and to lower it as quickly as possible in coming years.

The Groningen field is run by NAM, a 50-50 joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil.

Output at the field is set to drop to 19.4 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the year through October 2019, down from a 2013 peak of 54 bcm.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Nick Macfie)

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