Spain sees link between quakes and offshore gas storage plant
A platform, part of the Castor Project, located in the Ebro Delta off the coast of Alcanar, stands at sea on October 2, 2013 (AFP, Lluis Gene)
Madrid — Spain’s government said Thursday that a wave of small earthquakes that have rattled the country’s eastern coast could be caused by a large offshore gas storage plant.
Over 300 earthquakes have struck the Gulf of Valencia, a zone not normally known for seismic activity, over the past month, according to Spain’s National Geographic Institute. The quakes have not caused any damage but have frightened residents.
The strongest, a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, hit in the early hours of Tuesday.
Two earthquakes measuring 4.1 struck the region late on Wednesday.
Environmentalists blame the earthquakes on the injection of gas into a giant underground gas storage facility located in the Gulf of Valencia but the government has up to now said there was no confirmed link.
The Castor storage plant aims to store gas in a depleted oil reservoir 1.7 kilometres (1.05 miles) under the Mediterranean Sea and send it via a pipeline to Spain’s national grid.
“There seems to be a correlation, a direct relationship between the gas injection in the underground storage facility which is 22 kilometres from the coast and the microearthquakes that have occurred,” Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said in an interview with radio Cadena Cope.
Spanish firm Escal UGS which owns and operated the Castor storage plant stopped injecting gas into the underground reservoir on June 16.