Gas-Rich Groningen Province in Netherlands Hit by New Earthquake

The Dutch province of Groningen, which sits on the Slochteren gas deposit, was hit by another earthquake as pressure grows on Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. to cut output amid forecasts of heavier temblors.

A quake measuring 2.7 on the Richter scale struck the area at about 6:30 a.m. local time, following two quakes on Feb. 7 and yesterday, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, or KNMI, said in a statement on its website. The village of ’t Zand, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of Amsterdam, was at the epicenter of the latest earthquake, KNMI said.

The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij BV, or NAM, the Dutch gas-production venture between Shell and Exxon that operates the Slochteren field, will compensate for all damage caused by the earthquakes, it said yesterday. The venture has set aside 100 million euros ($134 million) for claims, it said.

Earthquakes have taken place in the northern Netherlands since 1986 and “have been linked by experts to gas production,” NAM said yesterday. The Dutch parliament on Feb. 7 discussed the risks of gas production as municipalities and the executives of the province council urge the government and field operators to lower output and slow activity.