WorldWide Drilling Resource

10 SEPTEMBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Groningen ~ An Energy Giant Shuts Down Compiled the Editorial Staff of WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Groningen, a medium-sized town in the northern Netherlands, is quite famous within the European energy community, for this small municipality is home to the largest gas field in western Europe and one of the largest in the world, with 22 production locations and 258 wells. The Groningen gas field is gigantic with initial recoverable gas reserves of roughly 100,000 cubic feet. The field spreads over 15 by 21 miles, and the reservoir is located in Northwest Europe’s Southern Permian Basin at depths between 8530 and 10,500 feet, while its thickness ranges from 328 feet in south-southeast to 984 feet in north-northwest. Just imagine a balloon the size of Barcelona or Mt. Everest. Discovered in 1959, it has been producing natural gas since 1963, with 93% of the country’s population using gas from the field. What makes the natural gas from Groningen unique is its special quality, a low-calorific gas ideal for domestic consumption. In fact, it is now the standard for gas stoves and boilers in central Europe. But every giant has its weakness, and Groningen is no exception. After the massive gas withdrawals of the 70s, the first earthquake as a result of gas extraction occurred. More than a thousand earthquakes have taken place since the 90s. Most of them were light, while others were clearly felt by the population. Then, in August 2012, a 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook the village of Huizinge - the largest earthquake in the country’s recorded history - damaging buildings and infrastructure. Within three years, the government imposed production restrictions. But the tremors continued. In January 2018, a 3.4-mag- nitude earthquake hit Zeerjip, the largest quake since the one in Huizinge. Following this quake, production was again reduced with plans to shut down the field completely by 2030. Then another even larger earthquake happened in May 2019, near the village of Westerwijtwerd. In total, there were over 320 induced earthquakes. Groningen is positioned in a tectonically inactive zone, populated by about 600,000 people whose dwellings and other structures never needed to be earthquake proof. Since 1963, the steady depletion of natural gas led to increasing compaction and an ever greater seismic response to further extraction. A steady growth of seismic activity per unit of gas extraction was determined to be the cause. Meanwhile, thousands of residents had been suffering from advanced building damage, diminishing property values, disturbing home reinforce- ment, and various stress-related health complaints. As a result, in 2019, the Dutch government decided to reduce NAM’s (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij’s) produc- tion, and gradually phase out the giant field with complete closure and well decom- missioning by 2022. NAM began the first phase of the permanent closure of the Groningen Field by decommissioning the surface facilities in Ten Post, a small village in northeast Groningen and one of the 20 production sites to be decommissioned. Production at Ten Post stopped in February 2018, and plugging of the gas wells was completed in March 2019. By mid-2020, NAM had begun the work of removing the ten gas wells from the Uiterburen site, marking the start of the decommissioning process, which included surface infrastructure. Restoration of the sites and surroundings in line with the requirements of landowners and relevant legislation was also included in the closure plans. The Groningen field has a low-calorific gas due to its high nitrogen content, and home appliances in the residential sector and the industrial consumers in northwest Europe had adapted to using low-calorific gas. To meet the continuing demand for the low-calorific gas after production from Groningen is phased out, the government is working on expanding nitrogen production capacity to convert high- calorific gas by building a new nitrogen plant in Zuidbroek. This quality conversion facility is scheduled to open in 2022. Production of low-calorific gas is also expect- ed to come from a newly discovered field, north of the island of Schiermonnikoog. The NAM joint venture with ExxonMobil (Shell interest 50%) in partnership with the Dutch government operates the Groningen gas field. NAM continues to help people living in Groningen, who regrettably, have been affected by earthquakes linked to gas production. Station Wildervank of the Groningen natural gas field. G&O New & Used Tricones PDCs Drag & Claw Bits Drill Collars Bit Tipping Subs & Stabilizers HDD Bits & Reamers DTH Hammer & Bits Custom Fabrication Junk Mills / Fishing Tools Rod Henderson 661-201-6259 Eran Henderson 661-330-0790