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Earthquake shakes Dutch province of Groningen

Earthquake shakes Dutch province of Groningen
By Reuters
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AMSTERDAM - A magnitude 3.1 earthquake rattled the northern Dutch province of Groningen in the early hours of Saturday, the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute said.

The quake had its epicentre in the town of Wirdum, 145 km (90 miles) northeast of Amsterdam. No injuries were reported.

Previous tremors in Groningen caused by natural gas production resulted in billions of euros of damage to buildings that were not constructed to withstand them, prompting a big scaling-back of production in the region in the late 2010s.

Once a major supplier of natural gas to Europe, Groningen's output will be capped at 2.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the year starting Oct. 1, roughly 7% of annual domestic consumption in the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is due to testify on Thursday before a parliamentary commission investigating problems surrounding the exploitation of Groningen gas, including failures in fixing damaged buildings and compensating victims.

Although the Dutch are under pressure to change course after Russia's invasion of Ukraine triggered an energy crisis, Rutte's government has repeatedly said production could only be scaled up as a last resort if gas supplies for households run out.

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