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SHELL ACCUSED OF BLACKMAILING GRONINGEN ON EARTHQUAKE SAFETY, REPAIRS

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by Janene Pieters: 25 April 2016Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 20.31.49

A lobbying document Shell caused some serious irritation among Dutch parliamentarians. The oil and gas giant writes that the reduction in gas extraction in Groningen threatens the “economic base” of the plan to strengthen homes in the earthquake zone. Unacceptable blackmail, according to SP province director Eelco Eikenaar.

Shell lobbyists visited a number of parliamentarians over the past weeks, according to the Financieele Dagblad. The company is trying to convince parliament not to further reduce gas extraction in Groningen, otherwise there will be no money for reinforcing buildings in the province. Gas extraction in the earthquake prone province is currently capped at 27 billion cubic meters a year, but there are parties who want to reduce it further.

Unacceptable blackmail, SP province director Eelco Eikenaar said to the Volkskrant. “Below repairing damage lies no economic base, but a legal obligation.” He points to the 14.6 billion euros in profit the company recorded last year. “For that we need have no sympathy. Shell and NAM continue to choose to be part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.”

Shell and Exxon Mobil jointly owns the Dutch oil company NAM – the company that extracts natural gas in Groningen and therefore legally liable for damage caused by fracking earthquakes.

PvdA parliamentarian Henk Nijboer is one of those who had a visit from Shell lobbyists in recent weeks. “They say: we need money to pay for the reinforcements”, he said on RTV Noord on Friday. “Well that’s a ridiculous argument. An unacceptable context of: ‘let us extract, or we will not help the area’. That has to happen, they are required by law.” To the Volkskrant he added: “If you are at all aware of the misery in Groningen, this is morally far below par. Shell has to adhere to agreements and democratic decisions. The Parliamentary consensus is that gas extraction has to be lowered further.”

A spokesperson for Shell confirmed that there was a conversation with Nijboer, and with other parliamentarians. “You can call it lobbying, but also simple involvement”, the spokesperson said to the Volkskrant.

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