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Netherlands limits onshore gas and oil drilling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands will stop the search for new onshore oil and gas fields in a drive to reach its climate goals and limit seismic risks, the Dutch government said on Friday.

Exploration will be limited to offshore gas fields under the North Sea, which will remain needed to limit the country's dependence on Russian gas, the government said.

Onshore drilling will only happen at gas fields for which exploration is already allowed, while new permits for onshore oil drilling will no longer be granted.

"Gas is still needed as we move to sustainable alternatives. But oil is no longer needed to guarantee the energy supply to households," Mining deputy minister Hans Vijlbrief said.

The Netherlands for decades was one of Europe's main gas suppliers through the massive Groningen field in the north of the country.

But gas production there has been cut to a minimum in recent years to limit seismic risks in the region and is planned to end next year.

The Netherlands has some 175 smaller onshore gas fields in operation, which could still supply around 400 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer, Editing by Louise Heavens)