Shell, ExxonMobil and the Dutch government made €429bn from the Groningen gas field but left thousands of residents with damaged homes and health problems, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
Geological destabilization caused by drilling u GroningenEurope’s largest natural gas reserves, resulted in 1,594 earthquakes and damaged more than 85,000 buildings. parliamentary report closed on Friday.
Profits attributed to the two energy majors were 66 billion euros, with the biggest beneficiary of mining being the Dutch treasury, which earned 363 billion euros over the past 60 years.
“The state and companies made a lot of money but ignored the signals that there was a causal link between gas extraction and earthquakes, and when it was proven that there was, they underestimated the severity of how bad these earthquakes were,” Tom van der Lee, Green Politician , who led the investigation, told the Financial Times.
“This is a slow-moving disaster. . . the impacts are quite large, but because of our government’s inability to intervene, the people who are affected are waiting and waiting for years and you can’t go on with your life.”
Groningen does not lie on any tectonic fault, but drilling has resulted in earthquakes of up to 3.9 on the Richter scale. At this level, they would normally be considered fairly mild tremors.
But due to the nature of the mining, the vibrations were much closer to the surface than natural tremors, so they would appear more like a magnitude 5 or more – closer to equivalence. upheavals in Turkey in recent weeks.
More than 11,880 buildings have yet to be secured, the report said.
Van der Lee said that €10 billion was spent on compensation to residents and building support efforts, but that for every €1 that went to residents, €70 billion was spent on bureaucracy.
Residents suffered from insomnia and palpitations, while one research report noted that those who lived near the quake were at risk of premature death.
Groningen is believed to contain about 450 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas, almost three times what the EU imported from Russia before its invasion of Ukraine.
The drop in Russian gas flows has increased pressure on Dutch authorities to keep Groningen open as EU countries rush to secure alternative supplies.
Despite this, the Netherlands in October capped production from Groningen to 2.8 bcm per year – down from 42.5 bcm in 2014 – and announced it would end production there this year. A decision on extending production will be taken in June after a debate on the report’s conclusions.
Marjan van Loon, president and CEO of Shell Netherlands, said that “the people of Groningen bore a large part of the burden of gas production and saw only a small part of the benefits.”
She added that all parties “including Shell did not listen carefully enough to the residents of Groningen when they expressed their concerns about the damage to their homes and the safety risks arising from the production. . . we have an important lesson here”.
ExxonMobil did not respond to a request for comment.
Hans Vijlbrief, the Dutch mining minister, said: “The people of Groningen have always been right about the consequences of gas extraction. Acknowledging the suffering caused to them is the most important thing today.”