Spain sees 'limited risk' of big quake linked to gas

Oct 04, 2013
A platform, part of the Castor Project, located in the Ebro Delta off the coast of Alcanar, stands at sea on October 2, 2013

Spain's government said Friday there is a limited risk of a big earthquake shaking the eastern coast after a string of small tremors linked to a vast offshore gas storage plant.

In the past month, some 400 earthquakes have rattled the Gulf of Valencia, where a depleted oil reservoir is being used as a giant facility. The activity has frightened residents but so far caused no damage.

There is a "limited risk" of a significant quake occurring, Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria told journalists, citing advisers as well as Spain's geological and hydrological mining institutes.

"There is a high probability of a relationship between the injections of gas into the storage facility between June 13 and September 16 and the seismic movements on the coastal zone facing the facility," he told a news conference after a weekly meeting of government ministers.

Since Friday morning another 15 quakes, the largest measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale, had rattled the zone, which is not normally known for its , the National Geological Institute said.

The government ordered Spanish firm Escal UGS, which owns and runs the facility, to halt operations on September 26—10 days after the company had already stopped pumping in gas.

"This halt will continue in force until there is an absolute guarantee of 100 percent safety for the whole population," the industry minister said.

Known as Project Castor, the scheme aims to store gas in a depleted 1.7 kilometres (1.05 miles) under the Mediterranean Sea and send it via a pipeline to Spain's national grid.

Some 100 million cubic metres of gas have been pumped into the reservoir, which has a capacity of 1.3 billion cubic metres, enough to supply Valencia's population of five million for three months.

A commission of experts is studying the quakes, the largest of which hit on Tuesday registering 4.2 on the Richter scale, the industry minister said.

Valencia and the neighbouring region of Catalonia have activated the lowest level of their earthquake emergency plans so as to reassure the population, he said.

The president of Spain's College of Geologists, Luis Suarez, told AFP there were "rational indications" linking the earthquakes to the Castor project.

The plant is located near a fault line that normally produces very little seismic activity but the injections were causing the accumulated energy that exists there to be released, he said.

Explore further: Spain sees link between quakes and offshore gas storage plant

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Poland starts shale gas extraction

Aug 28, 2013

Shale gas extraction has begun at a test well in northern Poland, a first for the EU member, a minister said in a newspaper interview on Wednesday.

Poland may delay launch of nuclear plants

Jun 18, 2013

Poland could delay building its first nuclear power plants as natural gas, including shale gas, becomes less costly, the prime minister of the central European heavyweight said Tuesday.

Pakistan quake island unlikely to last: experts

Sep 25, 2013

A small island of mud and rock created by the huge earthquake that hit southwest Pakistan has fascinated locals but experts—who found methane gas rising from it—say it is unlikely to last long.

Recommended for you

Kiribati leader visits Arctic on climate mission

Sep 20, 2014

Fearing that his Pacific island nation could be swallowed by a rising ocean, the president of Kiribati says a visit to the melting Arctic has helped him appreciate the scale of the threat.

NASA catches a weaker Edouard, headed toward Azores

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Atlantic Ocean and captured a picture of Tropical Storm Edouard as it continues to weaken. The National Hurricane Center expects Edouard to affect the western Azores ...

User comments : 0