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Groningen Gas Field: Shell and Exxon Mobil’s Monument to Greed and Disregard for Health Risks

Posted by John Donovan July 5, 2023

The Groningen gas field, a behemoth boasting a mind-boggling 2.8 billion cubic meters, serves as a glorious testament to the insatiable greed of Shell and Exxon Mobil, the illustrious partners responsible for its management. With their joint venture company NAM overseeing extraction operations for over six decades, these oil giants have accumulated immense profits while leaving behind a trail of devastation and despair.

The State Supervision of Mines (SodM) has called for the complete closure of the Groningen gas field as early as this fall, challenging the arbitrary deadline of October 1, 2024. It appears that the painfully slow progress in reinforcing infrastructure and compensating for earthquake damage has had a noticeable impact on the health of residents in the quake-stricken area. State Secretary Hans Vijlbrief, tasked with overseeing mining affairs, must urgently address these concerns and put an end to the uncertainty that plagues the region, as per the authority’s advice.

Last week, the Dutch government announced that gas extraction from Groningen would cease in the coming autumn. However, much to the dismay of affected communities, the gas field will not be permanently closed until the autumn of 2024. The government claims that in case of a severe winter or gas storage issues, gas extraction can still be maintained at the “pilot flame level” next year. How thoughtful of them to prioritize potential supply issues over the health and well-being of the people impacted by their unscrupulous operations. According to the SodM, Vijlbrief was already aware of this advice before making the decision, but apparently, he must navigate the treacherous waters of conflicting interests, as a spokesperson so eloquently put it.

And let’s not forget the impeccable timing of this announcement. With the war in Ukraine escalating and the international situation remaining uncertain, Vijlbrief has conveniently cited these external factors as reasons for postponing the start of the pilot phase. 

The vigilant regulator, in its statement, emphasized the adverse consequences of the prolonged wait for reinforcement and repair of damage caused by gas production in Groningen on the health of residents. As the SodM has rightfully highlighted, research indicates that “some residents develop stress-related health conditions that can cause premature death.” But worry not, for Shell and Exxon Mobil are merely concerned about their bottom line, not the lives they have irreparably disrupted.

Right of Reply: Shell, Exxon Mobil and NAM are all graciously invited to identify any factual inaccuracies in this critical portrayal. Should they wish to provide closing comments for publication, they will be included in this article unedited, as fairness demands.

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