Operations at a Spanish gas plant have been linked to over 500 mini earthquakes registered in Spanish towns on the Catalonia-Valencia coast since September. The tremors – the largest of which clocked in at a magnitude of 4.2 – have caused threats of a £1.1b compensation bill to be levelled at the Spanish Government for reported negligence at the offshore site.
Researchers claim that warnings of potential earthquakes at the plant, majority owned by Spanish firm Escal UGS, were ignored by the Spanish authorities in the run-up to the operation’s approval. It is now thought that gas injections into a depleted oil reservoir a mile under the seabed were responsible for the tremors, which occurred in an area not known for its seismic activity.
The Spanish energy and industry minister, José Manuel Soria, has now admitted there was a “high probability of a relationship between the injections of gas and the seismic movements on the coastal zone facing the facility.” Activity has since been halted at the plant, which was operational for a mere two months.
Soria continued, “This halt will continue in force until there is an absolute guarantee of 100 per cent safety for the whole population.” While investigations into the plant’s future safety are now underway, it is feared that permanent closure of the site will mean a hefty compensation bill to be footed by the Spanish Government.