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…even if gas production stops altogether, the earthquakes will continue for a while…

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch equivalent of the Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad

And again Kloosterboer reports earthquake damage

Carel Grol • Entrepreneurship

Jan Enne Kloosterboer (74) has come running. From his farm on the Wirdumerweg, to the town hall of Loppersum. A ten-minute walk, the sky gray, temperature just above freezing. A walk also to clear his head.

Because here in the town hall there is an office of the Centrum Veilig Wonen (CVW). It is a small room. Pink walls, a poster of a mill, two desks. Kloosterboer walked here to report his damage. Again.

Residents of the large house next to the town hall, at Stationsstraat 2, have this Tuesday the Groningen flag demonstratively hung half-mast. Because Monday there was another earthquake, of 3.4 on the Richter scale. That was the toughest in years. A poster in front of the window is now crooked.

To predict

Gas production in the Groningen field has halved over the past five years. The extraction is as uniform as possible. An earthquake industry has arisen in Groningen. Lobby groups, interest groups, the National Coordinator Groningen and – since October – a project director general Groningen Bovengronds. It is bursting with regulations and protocols.

But with the quake of this week it turned out again: that makes little difference. An earthquake is difficult to predict. And, most people know here, even if gas production stops altogether, the earthquakes will continue for a while. So much gas has been removed that the earth continues to settle for a while. Ten years, maybe longer.

It is, as State Supervision of Mines said earlier, that the correlation between gas extraction and quakes is evident. But the extent to which there is correlation is particularly difficult to determine.


Kloosterboer enters the office at half past three. The employee of the CVW, glasses, blouse, black scarf and stimulus beard gives Kloosterboer a hand. He asks him to sit down. Opposite each other, so Kloosterboer can tell his story.

The Centrum Veilig Wonen (Center for Safe Living) is the first reporting point for damage, but in Groningen many people see it as a dubious institution. NAM is a shareholder. And NAM, the conviction of many people in this province, does everything to train or downplay the damage. But what should Kloosterboer do then? Not reporting the damage is not an option.

Kloosterboer, who was first a farmer and later worked with horses for years, was walking himself when the ground started to shake on Monday. Hat on, he felt little. His wife was in Loppersum at that time. She happened to be in the drug store. In a few seconds the quake is over again. But there was a bang and the pots in the cupboard moved in all directions. It felt as if the whole building had subsided, his wife said.

‘Not again’

The CVW in Loppersum is open daily until six o’clock. On Monday they stayed open until eight o’clock, Tuesday as well. All day people drip inside, there are phone calls and e-mails. The complaints are the same. Cracks in the wall. Broken glass. Cracking in joint work.

The first thought of Kloosterboer after the earthquake: ‘Please do not go again’, he says to the man of the CVW. Because Kloosterboer and his wife have been at odds with NAM for years. That is why he comes to the office one day after the quake. He could not handle it immediately after the quake.

Sometimes he is still awake at night. Kloosterboer has the strongest barn in the area, he says. But that too has gone wrong. The glass jumped at 37 windows. He had cracks in the walls as thick as a finger. But what did the expert from Brabant say? ‘There is also a shed with a crack at us.’ He can still make it happen.


Conclusion was, even when the arbiter came: the lion’s share of the damage to his farm was C-damage. In CVW jargon this means: damage not caused by earthquakes. The concrete floor has come loose from the walls. And the concrete floor in the barn has been torn. Thirty years ago Kloosterboer drove around with tractors and other heavy machinery. No problem for the floor. Now there is nothing left and the concrete tears. Yet the experts stated: that was not earthquake-related.

In the autumn of last year, the final procedures were finished. Everything seemed a bit behind, Kloosterboer and his wife thought that they finally had some rest again. And just then there was another earthquake. He says so, says Kloosterboer in a calm voice and a Groningen accent against the man of the CVW.

“What is the damage?” Asks the CVW employee.

“The door of my house is stuck. The door of my barn ‘, says Kloosterboer. ‘It was not the case yesterday. But I just want to be able to get in and out of my house in a decent way. ‘

“What do you want me to do for you?”

‘I want a contractor to come tomorrow who says:’ We’re going to solve that. ”

“But I’m not going to do that,” says the CVW man in his office.

‘Yes’, Kloosterboer sighs. “I always hear that.”

So he will arrange a contractor himself. And then Kloosterboer dives for the umpteenth time in a long administrative procedure with the CVW and finally the NAM. And in the meantime he can only hope that the ground will remain quiet for the time being. But that is a guarantee that no one can give.

Next week debate in House of Representatives

MPs reacted shocked to the latest earthquake. Liesbeth van Tongeren, MP of GroenLinks wants Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate to take action as quickly as possible. “Breaking the coalition agreement and gas extraction down quickly!” She tweeted. She also wants a national damage fund to be set up.

According to Sandra Beckerman, Member of Parliament for the SP, the latest earthquake has once again shown that gas extraction now needs to be reduced. The House of Representatives must, according to her, come back from the recess. Waiting for longer is too dangerous, “says Beckerman.

Rob Jetten of D66 also wants The Hague to start working quickly with a ‘reduction plan for gas consumption in the Netherlands for the benefit of less gas extraction’.

The call for a debate about the situation in Groningen was shared across the board. That debate will take place next week. Wiebes already hinted on Tuesday evening that he wants to try to bring down the gas production in Groningen further than agreed in the coalition agreement. According to the Minister, production should now be ‘maximally’ reduced during this cabinet period.

During the debate there must also be talk about the handling of the damage.

Wiebes is on Wednesday for consultations in Groningen.

Right next to the town hall of Loppersum, the Groningen flag was hung demonstratively at half-mast. Photo: Corné Sparidaens

Jan Enne Kloosterboer tells his story at the Centrum Veilig Wonen: “It’s me here.” Photo: Corné Sparidaens

Jan Enne Kloosterboer has had a jamming door in his shed since Monday. Photo: Corné Sparidaens

A lot has happened

Gas production in the Groningen field has halved over the past five years. The extraction is as uniform as possible.


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