Secret deals between Economic Min, Shell, Exxon about Groningen gas

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In 2005 the Ministry of Economic Affairs made secret deals with oil and gas companies Shell ad Exxon about gas extraction in Groningen. These agreements were never shared with parliament, broadcaster NOS reports based on documents retrieved with the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents states that the Ministry of Economic Affairs' director general for energy signed an agreement with Shell and Exxon on November 26th, 2005. Shell and Exxon are the joint owners of NAM.

"There is an agreement on a long-term production philosophy for Groningen", the documents read. "That assumes that Groningen will produce at a set level for the next ten years, until the time (after 2020) that the field declines in a natural manner."

There is also a memo that states that the agreement limits the Minister's room for policy making.

It is unclear whether this agreement had an effect in the Ministry's reluctance to reduce gas extraction in Groningen, despite large amounts of damage caused by fracking earthquakes. Minister Henk Kamp eventually reduced gas extraction in the province to and , following a by the Dutch Safety Board. The report stated that the safety of Groningen residents were never taken into account when decisions were made about gas extraction.