In the Netherlands, we only produce gas from small gas fields if it can be done safely and responsibly.
With any form of mining, there are consequences and potential risks. We will discuss this in more detail in the questions below. We map out any consequences and risks in advance. This is stated in the so-called Extraction Plan, in which all the details of a project are described. Both before and during gas production, everything is strictly controlled. We do this to start with as Vermilion himself. In addition, various independent bodies also monitor our work.
Everything we do is continuously tested and checked by state supervision of mines (SodM). In addition, various independent organisations, such as the Technical Committee on Soil Movement, the KNMI and TNO, carry out measurements and checks. That’s a good thing: safety comes first.
We carry out our activities in accordance with the national policy of the central government and the mining regulations. Before we can carry out our activities, various permits are required. That is why we only work if we have received all permits from the competent authority. This is usually the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate. According to national policy, gas production from small fields is currently still necessary as long as it can be done safely and responsibly.
Subsidence takes place almost everywhere in the Netherlands. Even in places where there is no gas production. Subsidence has many causes. For example, subsidence due to oxidation of peat soils. This process has been going on in the Netherlands for centuries. It happens in the shallow subsurface (less than a few hundred meters deep). As a result, this often has many consequences for the surface. Subsidence also occurs during gas production. This is done by processes in the deep subsurface. As a result, this has no noticeable consequences for the surface.
Natural gas sits under pressure in a porous rock layer at a depth of more than two kilometres. For example, sandstone or limestone. In gas production, the gas is allowed to escape through a well. This reduces the pressure in the reservoir. As a result, the pores sag a little bit. This is due to the weight of the overlying earth layers. There is then less gas left in the pores to provide back pressure. That’s what we call compaction. If this happens, the layers above it also drop a little. In that descent process, the volume of the compaction divides. In this way, a very gradual subsidence bowl can occur at the surface. This bowl formation takes place over a large area and it happens very gradually, over decades.
The subsidence in the deepest point of the subsidence bowl is usually a few centimeters in the end. This amounts to a height difference of 1 to 2 millimeters per stretching 100 meters. This is so little, because it is gradual and because the surface of the bowl is so large.
No, the pocketing difference between one side of the house and the other side is simply too small for that. From the front to the back of a home, this amounts to a height difference of a sheet of paper. This has no direct consequences for buildings and infrastructure.
This is done with leveling and GPS. We regularly carry out soil subsidence measurements. We do this according to a measurement plan that we have submitted to the State Supervision of Mines. We present the results of the soil subsidence measurements to the local authorities involved. In addition, we publish the results below.
No. We extract natural gas from small gas fields. These fields are a thousand to even ten thousand times smaller than the Groningen gas field. That is why it is impossible that problems arise such as in Groningen.
With any form of gas production, there is always a minimal chance of a slight quake. However, the risk of this is negligible in small gas fields.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) has a national measurement network. This accurately measures what is happening in the subsurface. If a quake were to occur, the KNMI would use special measuring equipment. This allows them to determine the epicenter and the strength of the quake. In addition, in such a case, the ground movement is estimated in the area around the epicenter. The measurement data helps to assess whether a reported building damage has been caused by a mining activity.
Yes. We are convinced that our way of working is safe and responsible. Nevertheless, we understand that gas production is a sensitive subject for many people nowadays. We do our best to reduce concerns. We have therefore installed an additional network of measuring equipment (geophone stations and accelerometers) ourselves. This allows us to further densify the KNMI monitoring network. The locations and specifications for this have been chosen in consultation with the KNMI. All stations are connected to the KNMI monitoring network. The data is managed by the KNMI without the intervention of Vermilion. The stations can be viewed online and live (although the signals can only be interpreted by experts). The areas where we are active are therefore among the best and most accurately measured areas in the Netherlands.
Anyone who causes damage must handle this properly. This applies to all citizens and businesses in the Netherlands. So also for us. We compensate all damages resulting from our activities. We think it is important that this is assessed independently. That is why we have been affiliated with the Mining Damage Committee of the central government since the summer of 2020. The main task of this committee is to address people’s concerns. This committee is completely independent and assesses every damage report. The committee’s opinion is always binding.
You can report your damage to the Mining Damage Commission.
No. The Technical Committee soil movement has evaluated the usefulness of the baseline measurement of buildings. This was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. The committee does not recommend a baseline measurement. From 2019, the architectural recording will therefore no longer be prescribed as standard when approving a extraction plan.
Before 2019, Vermilion’s extraction plans have been approved with the requirement for an architectural recording. This means that we performed recordings on a representative selection of structures in the vicinity of the gas field that are sensitive to soil movement. These have been carried out and completed. Residents who participated can find the architectural report online. In addition, the final reports of the architectural recordings carried out per extraction plan can be found below.