AP

Inquiry issues damning report into Dutch gas drilling

Feb 24, 2023, 7:32 AM | Updated: 10:26 am

FILE -  A crack in the wall of a farm in Hunzinge, northern Netherlands, on Jan. 19, 2018. A parlia...

FILE - A crack in the wall of a farm in Hunzinge, northern Netherlands, on Jan. 19, 2018. A parliamentary inquiry released a damning report Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, into the government's handling of lucrative natural gas extraction that caused a string of earthquakes in the northern province of Groningen, saying that authorities put profits before people. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch parliamentary inquiry released a damning report Friday into the government’s handling of lucrative natural gas extraction that caused a string of earthquakes in the northern province of Groningen, saying that authorities put profits before people.

“The interests of the people of Groningen have been structurally ignored in natural gas extraction in Groningen, with disastrous consequences for the people of Groningen,” the commission said in a statement.

The conclusions in the nearly 2,000-page report are the latest damaging blow to the credibility of Dutch governments that have been led for more than a decade by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

He declined Friday to react to the report’s findings, but acknowledged that the conclusions were “hard and painful” and underscore why people in Groningen “are angry and sad and that people feel unsafe and abandoned.”

Two years ago, Rutte’s last ruling coalition resigned over a parliamentary inquiry’s report into a scandal over efforts to stamp out child welfare payment fraud that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters.

Hans Vijlbrief, the government’s minister in charge of mines, said Friday was a day for the people of Groningen and not for political consequences.

“I, myself, feel shame about what has happened here and that means we have to do something about it,” he told reporters.

Gas was extracted in Groningen for decades by a consortium including energy giants Shell and ExxonMobil before the Dutch government, spurred into action by the quakes that were shaking homes in the region, took a decision in 2018 to gradually stop pumping gas out of the ground.

The Dutch state earned 363 billion euros from Groningen gas, the report said. Extraction from the Groningen field — one of the world’s largest at 2,800 billion cubic meters — has now all but stopped, with only enough pumped to keep gas installations in the region operational. The field is not expected to re-open even amid the energy worries prompted by Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine.

Thousands of households are still waiting for their homes to be strengthened after years of shaking damaged buildings. Thousands more are awaiting compensation.

An organization that represents many of them, Groninger Bodem Beweging, said the inquiry report could be summed up with the words: “Too little, too late,” and called for action from the government.

The commission said the government and energy companies used what they called “security of supply” as a “smoke screen.”

It made a string of recommendations, including that the government make the processing of claims for damage easier, ensure enough money is available for compensation and strengthen the role of the country’s mining regulator.

Marjan van Loon, president director of Shell Netherlands, said the report was right to focus on the plight of people in Groningen.

“Groningen residents bore a large part of the burden of gas production and saw only a small part of the benefits,” she said in a written statement.

“As a company, we have important lessons to learn here. Looking to the future, we believe that things can and must be improved. We are therefore engaged in discussions with the government to find a way to make this happen,” she added.

ExxonMobil did not immediately react.

NAM, the Dutch gas drilling company that includes Shell and ExxonMobil, acknowledged in a written statement that it had “played an important role in this crisis.”

The company’s director, Johan Atema, said “it is clear that we must pay more attention to the society in which we work. It is up to us to show that we, as a company, from learned from this.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Global technology outage causes chaos on Friday morning...

Associated Press

Faulty software update causes havoc worldwide for airlines, hospitals and governments

A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday morning.

2 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

Donald Trump celebrated by former rivals at Republican National Convention

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

4 days ago

FILE - Members of the Henderson Fire Department load Deb Billet, 66, into an ambulance before trans...

Associated Press

Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths.

8 days ago

FILE - Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the "Ask Dr. Ruth" panel during the Hulu presentation at...

Associated Press

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, has died

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, media star and best-selling author, has died.

8 days ago

Biden proposes rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat...

Associated Press

Biden proposes new rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat

President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed a new rule to address excessive heat in the workplace, warning — as tens of millions of people in the U.S. are under heat advisories — that high temperatures are the country's leading weather-related killer.

19 days ago

FILE - Rori Chang, of Glendale, Ariz., walks with her dog Ava as they leave the Maricopa Country An...

Associated Press

Here are ways that can help ease dogs’ July Fourth dread

Those with furry, four-legged family members will be searching for solutions to the Fourth of July anxiety that fireworks bring.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Inquiry issues damning report into Dutch gas drilling