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Dutch Minister Wiebes Says NAM Must Pay for Groningen Earthquake Damage

Wiebes did not want to give a prognosis about amounts. What is certain is that it involves billions.

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

NAM position weakened with new damage protocol 

Carel Grol • Economics & Politics

NAM is completely sidelined in the handling of the earthquake damages. The State will deal with the damage, NAM must pay. In case of doubt, the claimant is to be considered in favor of the claimant, damages are no longer limited by so-called geographical contours.

That is what Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, said on Wednesday afternoon at the provincial government building in Groningen. Last year it was already clear that the Dutch Petroleum Company (NAM), which extracts the gas from the Groningen field, would be removed from the damage process. Because NAM who took the damage, that was for many people as the butcher who approves his own meat.

Zeerijp Earthquake

But it turned out to be legally difficult to set up a protocol where NAM is liable, while the company has no further say. From April last year, the protocol has been canceled.

Due to the earthquake in Zeerijp on 8 January, the negotiations accelerated. Because no claims could be processed without damage claims. Last year, thousands of damages remained.


One of the changes is that the so-called contours circle disappears. This was handled by NAM. Part of the province of Groningen did fall within the earthquake area, while another part did not.

‘The old contours were based on theoretical models with many assumptions. It was not consistent with the perception of the residents themselves’, says Susan Top of the Groningen Gas Council. ‘They saw that something was happening with their house, but were told that it could not be true. Theoretical models were considered more reliable than people. There is a lot of frustration at the core. ‘


Last year, 1,600 damage reports were rejected because they fell outside the official earthquake area. This method disappears: people with damage can report this and the location of the house is no longer being looked at.

No contours may mean more damage notifications and therefore higher compensation. How many extra cases will be reported? “I can not predict that,” Minister Wiebes said.


That could not be the Groningen Soil Movement (GBB), an organization with 4,000 people connected. “There will be people whose damages have been rejected, and who are tired. Perhaps there is a slight increase in the number of reports, says Jelle van der Knoop from Stedum, chairman of the GBB. But ultimately, the number of claims lies mainly on the new earthquakes. “And they can not be predicted.”

The GBB, the Gas Council, the province and almost all political parties: everyone was pleased with the new damage protocol. Also NAM director Gerard Schotman. The NAM is at a distance, and ‘that was emphatically the wish of the Groningers and also of us as a company’.


NAM was accused of training the handling. That the company loses influence, according to GBB does not have to work out badly. NAM will no longer receive negative publicity about bad claims handling, says Van der Knoop. ‘They also do not have to worry about the process of handling, which NAM was not really equipped with.’

NAM will now make a deal with the government. The State will finance everything, and that will be told by the oil and gas company. Wiebes did not want to give a prognosis about amounts. What is certain is that it involves billions. ‘We did not sit around the table with them, but the intention is that the NAM will pay’, the minister said. ‘It is up to me to get the damage compensated. I also count on that. ‘

In the words of the Groninger Bottom Movement: ‘You can talk to this minister.’




NAM who took the damage, that was for many people as the butcher who approves his own meat

Disguised victory

Due to the earthquake in Zeerijp of 8 January, the negotiations about the protocol gained momentum

‘It’s up to me to get the damage reimbursed’

• Minister Eric Wiebes

‘Remote NAM was a wish of our company’

• Gerald Schotman, director of NAM


NAM has no control over the process. But the company no longer has to worry about negative publicity or about claims handling.



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