Officials made the comments during a parliamentary hearing with Shell and ExxonMobil executives after being challenged by GroenLinks MP Liesbeth van Tongeren, broadcaster NOS reported.
‘We acknowledge that the people of Groningen are dealing with most of the problems caused by gas extraction, which we in the Netherlands can thank for our prosperity,’ Shell Nederland president Marjan van Loon said.
‘That is why the people of Groningen deserve our support. The NAM has expressed its regrets and I can fully support that. So I can say too, “I’m sorry, sorry”.’
Later Exxon Mobil Nederland upstream director Rolf de Jong also apologised for the problems caused by the drilling. Shell and ExxonMobil are 50:50 shareholders in the NAM, which has the licence to extract natural gas from underneath the province.
The number of Groningen residents whose homes have been damaged by earthquakes caused by the gas extraction has risen to 100,000 according to a new report by Groningen university, the local community health service and provincial council.
Only 60% of people whose houses have been hit by quakes once feel safe at home and the figure falls to 38% for those who have suffered damage more than once. The average for the rest of the country is 85%.
The economic affairs ministry cut back the rate of gas extraction in Groningen at the start of this year after an increase in the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes in the area over the last decade. In the first six months of 2016 there were six quakes measuring 1.5 or more on the Richter scale, compared to 12 in the same period the previous year.