Following the 3.4 magnitude earthquake in Westerwijtwerd on Wednesday, activist group Code Rood has announced plans to create a blockade at the Gasunie building in Groningen.
Translation by Traci White
RTV Noord reports that the group announced their plans on their Facebook page. The group writes that the timing was prompted by one of the strongest quakes in regional history earlier this week striking Westerwijtwerd, and they chose the Gasunie building because it belongs entirely to the Dutch government, “which is allowing gas extraction to continue in the interest of national profits and at the expense of the Groningers.” The Gasunie building, which is also known in Dutch as the “Apenrots” (monkey rock), was built in 1994 and is one of the most distinctive – and largest – buildings in the city.
When it was founded in the ’60s after the discovery of vast natural gas reserves in the Groningen Slochteren field, Gasunie was a public-private partnership. In 2005, Gasunie split and the GasTerra subsidiary was created (which is owned by Royal Dutch Shell (25%), ExxonMobil (25%) and the Dutch state (50%)), which manages trade and supply. Gasunie is now fully owned by the Dutch state.
Gasunie spokesperson Michiel Bal told RTV Noord that the company was “initially surprised” to be targeted by the group due to their efforts to reduce reliance on natural gas, namely the construction of a nitrogen factory in Zuidbroek. But Bal says that the activists “are protesting the government, and they see us as a state-owned company. Even though we serve as the transport company and are not responsible for the gas extraction, we understand why this group wants to draw attention to the plight of the Groningen victims.”
Last summer, Code Rood activists took part in a days long protest outside of several NAM operation facilities in Farmsum and Amsweer – NAM is the Dutch natural gas company. Several protestors were struck by the police, actions which the police later apologised for.
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