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Groningen Gas Field Earthquake Damage

Possibly 15,000 houses must be strengthened. Of these, 2500 have an increased risk and some 7,000 still have to be inspected. Sietsma predicted that the whole operation will take five to seven years.

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad. NAM is the Shell/Exxon Joint Venture company responsible for the earthquake blighted Groningen Gas Field and consequential potential bill for untold billions to deal with damaged residences.

House in Loppersum that has been damaged by the gas quakes and whose façade needs to be supported.ROBIN UTRECH / HOLLANDSE HOOGTE

Billions of future plans for a beautiful Groningen, but uncertainty about the approach to damage remains.

Bas Knoop

Debating about the future of Groningen, while many Groningers themselves still live in uncertainty about the handling of earthquake damage and the strengthening of houses. Is that possible? Several MPs struggled with this question on Thursday evening during a debate on the future plan for the quake province.

Sandra Beckerman, MP for the SP and Groningen, even took the word ‘surreal’ in the mouth. ‘I find it difficult to talk about a hip hydrogen bus when many people do not know if they live in a safe house.’

Hydrogen bus

The Cabinet withdrew more than € 1 billion in October for the National Program Groningen (NPG). This stimulation plan, co-funded by NAM, should help the earthquake-ridden Groningen back on its feet.

The future plan has been set up in consultation with municipalities and provinces, and formulates numerous ambitions. From trials with natural gas-free neighbourhoods to the financing of hydrogen buses. There is also money for mental support for people affected by earthquakes. The first € 50 million is released this year.

Durable fainting

Apart from the PVV, which spoke about ‘sustainable fainting’, there is broad support for the NPG in the House. At the same time, MPs fired many questions to minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate.

Whether or not the Groningers should do the ‘only’ with € 1.15 billion, PvdA MP Henk Nijboer wanted to know. In his view, this amount is too little to boost the economy of the province. And how will the Cabinet prevent thousands of people in the gas sector from coming to the streets when the gas tap in Groningen closes, asked VVD member Dilan Yeşilgöz.

Wiebes answered the questions in his characteristic way of teaching. The minister told Nijboer that ‘he could not witch’. ‘With this amount you can also mobilize a huge amount of capital and investments.’

His party colleague Yeşilgöz replied to Wiebes that the energy transition also creates new employment. ‘Groningen can become an energy province again, but then cleaner and in a way that it will not tremble.’

Increased risk

But one question, asked by several politicians, Wiebes could not give a concrete answer: when the Groningers get clarity about whether their house should be strengthened. It is precisely today that the National Coordinator Groningen Herman Sietsma presented the long-awaited plan of action for the reinforcement task.

Possibly 15,000 houses must be strengthened. Of these, 2500 have an increased risk and some 7,000 still have to be inspected. Sietsma predicted that the whole operation will take five to seven years.

‘There are beautiful plans for Groningen on paper’, sighed Eva Akerboom of the Party for the Animals. ‘But what will help people the most is a fair settlement of the damage and reinforcement of houses. Until then, the flag does not go with us. ‘


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