Spain earthquakes subsiding, blamed on gas storage

2013-10-07 13:33
Plot of typical eartquake. (Picture: Supplied)

Plot of typical eartquake. (Picture: Supplied)

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Madrid - Earthquakes that have rocked eastern Spain near an offshore gas storage plant are diminishing in number and intensity, the National Geographic Institute said on Monday.

The Gulf of Valencia only registered two earthquakes with magnitudes of 1.6 and 1.8 overnight.

The Gulf of Valencia - an area off eastern Spain usually not affected by seismic activity - had registered more than 300 quakes since 13 September. The strongest of the tremors had a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale.

The quakes have caused no injuries or important damage, but they have frightened residents and sparked concern over their impact on the tourism industry in the region.

Geologists and environmentalists blamed the quakes on a giant offshore gas storage plant that started operating in June.

The €1.2bn ($1.6bn) project by the Spanish company Escal UGS is aimed at using a depleted oil reservoir 1.7km under the Mediterranean to store gas.

The amount of gas that can be kept in the Castor storage facility would cover a third of Spain's needs for 50 days. The gas would be injected through a pipeline into the national grid.

Escal UGS had started injecting so-called cushion gas into the reservoir when the earthquakes prompted the government to temporarily halt operations on 26 September.

The cause of the tremors is now being investigated.

The government has pledged not to re-authorise gas storage unless it gets guarantees that they would not create safety risks for people and property.

Thousands of demonstrators called for the definitive closure of the gas storage plant over the weekend.
Read more on:    environment

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