Depletion of the Groningen gas field has induced earthquakes, although the north of the Netherlands is a tectonically inactive region. Increased seismic activity raised public concern which led the government to initiate a number of studies with the aim of understanding the cause(s) of the earthquakes. If the relationship between production and seismicity were understood then production could be optimized in such a way that the risk of induced seismicity would be minimal. The main question remains how production is correlated with induced seismicity. The Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands decided to reduce production starting from 17 January 2014, specifically in the centre of the gas field as it has the highest rates of seismicity, the largest-magnitude events and the highest compaction values of the field.
A reduction in production could possibly lead to a reduced rate of compaction. Additionally a reduction of production rate could lead to a reduced stress rate increase on the existing faults and consequently fewer seismic events per year. One might envisage a ‘bonus effect’ in the events reduction in the sense that the total number of events will be less, with the same total production smeared out over a longer period. This is as yet unclear.
In this paper we apply different statistical methods to look for evidence supporting or disproving a decrease in the number of seismic events due to production reduction.