Dutch advisory council orders new government gas decision

A Dutch government advisory council has ordered the economic affairs ministry to draw up a new decision on how much gas can be extracted from an underground field in the north of the country, where the drilling has triggered minor earthquakes.

The government said in May that the Netherlands Petroleum Company, jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, could extract 21.6 billion cubic meters (763 billion cubic feet) per year over the next five years.

The Council of State ruled that the ministry should have explained more clearly the risks of gas extraction to people living in the earthquake-prone Groningen region and elaborated on the reasons for its decision.

Wednesday's ruling gave the government a year to draw up a new decision and said gas extraction can continue in the meantime.