After more than half a century of production and with some 350 wells, the Groningen gas field must be one of the best-studied gas fields in the world. Initially, it was considered to be relatively simple and behaving like one big tank. Now that it is entering a phase of declining production it has become clear that many subtleties are not fully understood yet. Prediction and management of subsidence and induced earth tremors require a detailed understanding of the field geology. In addition, an optimum gas recovery is only possible if details of, for example, reservoir quality distribution and faulting, that did not appear relevant before, are well understood.
The large Groningen field comprises a structurally high block during much of its history, probably already from Devonian times onwards. The desert sandstones of the Rotliegend reservoir exhibit a strong south-to-north proximal–distal relationship. Whilst diagenesis has in many fields led to deterioration of reservoir properties, this effect is small in the Groningen field. The field is dipping to the north, and bounded by a series of normal faults in the west, south and east. Almost all faults are normal extensional faults, but locally inverse reactivation has led to small pop-up structures. Reactivation of older faults must have resulted in oblique movements along most faults.
The challenges for future development of the Groningen field are immense. Managing the risks associated with induced seismicity and recovery of the remaining gas will continue to require an increasingly detailed knowledge and understanding of its geology.