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

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

( —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.