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NRC (The Netherlands): Shortcomings in safety at NAM (*a Shell/Exxon joint venture)


“I hope some journalists start putting this and the Brent fatalities together and strengthen Campbell’s story. It all is a result of forcing the substandard Shell Expro’s safety mentality onto the whole of EPE. The results are terrible and speak for themselves. And obviously no consequences for the self appointed ‘leaders’.”

THE NRC ARTICLE: English translation kindly supplied by a Shell insider

The Hague, 13 Sept.2007

The safety at Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) knew structural shortcomings when at 31st may 2005 a storage tank on the premises of the NAM in Warffum exploded. That concluded the ‘Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid’ (an national enquiry body that investigates major safety issues) of Pieter van Vollenhoven in an investigation published today. During welding activities on the storage tank with combustible natural gas condensate the tank exploded and a fire resulted. The explosion killed two workers, two others had minor injuries. The ‘Onderzoeksraad’ said that it is a must to again critically analyse the ‘Safety Management and on the basis of the results take actions. (ANP).

An article was also published on 13 Sept 2007 in the De Telegraaf, the biggest circulation newspaper in The Netherlands.

The following is an extract: –

In 2004 stelde het Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen (SodM) al dat er een aantal ‘zorgpunten’ bestonden bij de NAM. Volgens de raad heeft de kritiek van de SodM echter niet tot de noodzakelijke verbeteringen geleid.

English translation by a Shell insider:

In 2004 the State Supervision of the Mines (SodM) stated there were a number of ‘concerns’ at NAM. According to the ‘Raad’ this critique from the SodM has NOT resulted to necessary improvements.

For the complete article go to…

We did try to contact NAM for a comment but their Public Affairs was not available and we only received an autoreply from the absence manager….

Until Monday, 17th of September I will be out of the office, with limited email access. Your mail has not been forwarded. For urgent matters please contact the NAM External Affairs front office at +31 592 368 222.

Related background information taken from Wikipedia:

On 31 May 2005, a water condensate tank exploded at a NAM gas production facility near Warffum in The Netherlands. The two victims were both contractors’. NAM, a Shell/Esso joint venture, operating in The Netherlands issued a press statement on 31 May 2005.


Assen/Bunnik,  1 juni 2005

Tuesday May 31st 2005, GTI received the tragic news that two fatalities have been caused by a water condensate tank explosion at a NAM location near Warffum. The two victims were contractors working for GTI on maintenance and construction activities. A third contractor was injured. Our thoughts will be with the family and friends.

For further information please contact:
GTI nv
Leen Geschiere, Concern marketing and communications
Kosterijland 50, 3981 AJ Bunnik; P.O. Box 210, 3980 CE Bunnik, the Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0)30 656 94 00; fax: +31 (0)30 656 94 15;
e-mail: [email protected] ; internet:

Press release NAM, 31 May 2005 19.00 PM (

Water condensate tank explosion causes two fatalities at NAM location Warffum
May 31 2005
The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij B.V. (NAM) today regrets to announce that two fatalities have been caused by a water condensate tank explosion at a NAM location near Warffum. The two victims were contractors working for GTI on maintenance and construction activities. The next of kin of both people have been informed.
Deputy Director Rien Herber said: “Our heart goes out to the family members. We are shocked by this tragic incident. This is a black day for our company”.
Two people were injured by the explosion. One person was another contractor who was carrying out activities at the location, who was admitted to hospital for treatment. A fire fighter was also injured but returned home after treatment.
The explosion occurred at approximately 9 o’clock this morning. After the explosion a fire broke out. By approximately 10:30 the fire had been extinguished. The explosion occurred in a water condensate tank. In this tank, water and condensate (light oil, similar to petrol) was stored. These are fluids released during gas production.
Since April of this year maintenance and construction activities have been carried out at the Warffum location. The two victims were on the roof of the water condensate tank conducting work. Exact activities at the time of the explosion have not yet been established, but will be part of the investigation conducted by NAM and by several other agencies.
During a press conference arranged by Mayor Renkema of the Eemsmond municipality, where the NAM location near Warffum is based, NAM Deputy Director Rien Herber announced a thorough investigation. “These types of activities are carried out according to strict safety procedures, yet this tragic accident occurred.  We must know what has gone wrong and learn from it so that this cannot happen again.”
NAM has launched its own investigation, as have the State Supervision of Mines (SodM). SodM are coordinating their action with the Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid [Safety Investigation Council] and the Labour Inspectorate. The Public Prosecution Ministry (OM) has also established an investigation.
Herber: “Of course we will cooperate entirely in the investigations, and we will share our findings with the agencies. Also, when our investigations are complete, our results will be made public, so that everyone in the industry can use the knowledge.”
The location Warffum is one of dozens of gas production facilities in the Netherlands that NAM uses to produce gas from small gas fields. The installation at Warffum has been in use since the late seventies.

Article ends

*information added by John Donovan and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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