Missed yesterday? Everything about the gas survey in a nutshell

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Protest prior to the presentation of the final report of the parliamentary committee of inquiry on natural gas extraction in Groningen
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The conclusion of the final report ‘Groningers above gas’, presented yesterday, by the parliamentary committee of inquiry on gas production in Groningen, is clear. The interests of the people of Groningen have been systematically ignored in gas extraction in their province and money has always taken precedence over safety. In addition, the rest of the Netherlands lacked care and attention for the natural gas area for a long time.

An overview of the main conclusions from the final report, the reactions and the remaining questions.

The summary

The piece of nearly 2000 pages describes the state of affairs since gas extraction began in 1963 in the province. The committee emphatically opts for the perspective of the victims. “Interests of Groningers structurally ignored in gas extraction”, is the main conclusion.

In previous debates about the many reports and advice that have already been published, “the moral perspective” has often been lacking and the committee states that the Netherlands owes the people of Groningen a debt of honor.

Everything could have turned out differently if the Groningen people had been listened to earlier. “Now gas extraction has resulted in an unprecedented systemic failure of both public and private parties who have failed in their duties.”

Moreover, leading politicians, such as Prime Minister Rutte, have long underestimated the seriousness and urgency of the problems. When it became clear around 2018, Rutte did visit Groningen repeatedly and showed involvement, but to the frustration of the Groningen people nothing changed.

The message is that the people of Groningen must be given money, prospects for the future, care and attention. You can read more about the recommendations in this article.

Natural gas from Groningen has brought the Netherlands a lot of money, but on the other hand it drove people in Groningen to despair because of the earthquakes and the houses that are sinking and becoming uninhabitable. In this video you can see how it came to this:

Groningen gas: a billion-dollar treasure that became a curse for many Groningen residents

The reactions

  • First of all, the reaction of Prime Minister Rutte: he said that the conclusions of the parliamentary committee of inquiry in Groningen “have come in hard, also with me personally”. He did not want to respond substantively.
  • Shell and ExxonMobil, which both own 50% of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), see the survey as “an important milestone”, but they are not yet commenting on how the report will affect the companies themselves.

  • The NAM says it realizes that “we as a company have played an important role” in allowing the crisis to arise due to gas extraction in Groningen.
  • Supervisor State Supervision of Mines (SodM) hopes that the report will “bring much-needed acceleration for the many people in Groningen who are still waiting for reinforcements or claims settlement”. The regulator also says that lessons can be learned from the report “for energy production and mining in a general sense, now that these are as important as ever in the light of the energy transition”.
  • Among the interest groups in Groningen, the report is seen as recognition, but there is also skepticism. Coert Fossen of the Groningen Soil Movement thinks the recommendations made by the committee are still quite general. According to him, the real question is how the money for claims settlements will be spent and who will be responsible for this. “We think that the residents should have a very big say in this. I don’t want to sound negative, but I do have a healthy skepticism of: show it.” There is also doubt at the Groninger Gasberaad. “I hope that this report will disappear in a drawer less quickly and that consequences will be drawn,” says a spokesperson. It is important that the culture changes. “It should be: you have a problem, we solve that problem.”
  • Distrust can also be heard in the reactions of many Groningen citizens. On the one hand, there is relief at the recognition of the problems they have been facing for years now. On the other hand, a frequently heard reaction is: first see, then believe.

Groningen’s reactions:

Groningen residents about the results of the final report of the committee of inquiry: ‘Confidence is gone’

The questions

  • The big question is what will happen with the series of eleven recommendations to all parties, such as administrators, the House of Representatives, NAM and other stakeholders.
  • It remains to be seen what State Secretary Vijlbrief van Mijnbouw will do on behalf of the cabinet. The government will respond in detail later. That won’t take too long, said Vijlbrief. Whether that will come before the provincial elections on March 15 is not certain.
  • Is someone getting up? Vijlbrief did not want to comment on whether he would step down. The suffering of the people of Groningen had to be acknowledged, he said. Opposition parties immediately aimed their arrows at Prime Minister Rutte. PVV party leader Wilders said that Rutte should “bow his head to the Groningen people and resign”. SP Member of Parliament Beckerman urged the prime minister to “think very carefully after the benefits scandal and now this, gigantic scandals in which people have been destroyed by their own government”.

Vijlbrief was audibly emotional about the conclusions of the final report, which he called “very serious”. “Mostly I feel shame and that means we have to do something about it,” he said.

Vijlbrief’s response:

State Secretary Vijlbrief on behalf of the cabinet: ‘The people of Groningen were always right’
  • Relief, but also distrust in Groningen after presentation of a hard report
  • Committee of inquiry: gas extraction disastrous for Groningen residents, the Netherlands has a debt of honor
  • ‘Groningen claims handling must be milder, easier and more humane’
  • Collection

    Groningen gas

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