Rutte interfered to help Shell get €150 million subsidy for hydrogen power site: report
Prime Minister Mark Rutte interfered to help Shell get a 150 million euro subsidy for constructing a hydrogen plant in Rotterdam, Follow the Money reported based on internal reports from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Shell threatened to miss out on the subsidy due to carelessness, but at Rutte’s request, Ministry officials used “detours” and a “flexible” interpretation of the rules to get the oil and gas giant the subsidy.
The subsidy is to help build Holland Hydrogen I - the largest green hydrogen factory in Europe - on the Tweede Maasvlakte in Rotterdam. The project will cost an estimated 684 million euros.
Haste is what nearly cost Shell the subsidy, according to FTM. Shell and Rutte announced the construction of Holland Hydrogen I on 6 July 2022 before submitting an application for a subsidy. To be eligible for a subsidy, a company must demonstrate that the project is unfeasible without state support. That is not plausible when the project had already been announced with great fanfare.
According to FTM, Rutte enlisted officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to look at several “goat paths” to still register the subsidy with the European Union. They managed it with Shell’s argument that the July announcement was not a final investment decision. The officials bought the argument and forwarded the proposal to Brussels. The European Commission awarded the subsidy of 150 million euros to the company.
According to FTM, Shell, which made 38.5 billion euros in profit last year, threatened to withdraw the project if it did not receive the subsidy.