NAM threatened immediate end to gas production over earthquake damage liability: report
In August last year, gas extraction company NAM threatened to stop extracting gas in Groningen prematurely if the liability for damages caused by gas extraction in the province is not shifted away from the company, RTV Noord reports based on a secret report on a meeting between NAM director Thijs Jurgens, officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and representatives of the National Coordinator for Groningen.
The report shows that during the meeting Jurgens said that "as long as NAM retains liability, NAM will have to act to guarantee safety as quickly as possible". This could mean stopping gas extraction sooner than "is practical for the Netherlands". Stopping gas extraction sooner could put the energy supply in the country at risk.
At the time of the meeting, the government still considered it impossible to close the Groningen gas field much earlier, worrying about negative consequences for the energy supply. Two weeks ago the cabinet announced that this is possible after all. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate now plans to close the Groningen gas fields by 2022, instead of the originally planned 2030.
In a written response, the gas extraction company told RTV Noord that it never received the report containing those statements by Jurgens and therefore does not know about it. NAM does not deny that the director said the words in question, but said that the statements should not be seen as a means of pressure. "The context within which the comments in the report were made is missing", NAM said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate told the broadcaster that ministry employees "never heard or experienced" Jurgens' statements as a threat. "The NAM has an obligation to extract and cannot turn off the gas tap by its own hand", a spokesperson said.