Henk Nijboer, a member of the Dutch Parliament representing the Labor Party, has voiced concerns over reports indicating that Shell and ExxonMobil are considering the sale of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), the company set up decades ago to explore and produce oil and gas. According to the Groninger Internet Courant, Nijboer suggested that these energy giants might be attempting to distance themselves from their responsibility toward the Groningen region.
Nijboer’s apprehensions were raised through written questions addressed to State Secretary for Mining Hans Vijlbrief.
According to Bloomberg, Shell and ExxonMobil, who both own a 50% stake in NAM, are in talks with the Canadian firm Tenaz Energy about the potential sale of the Dutch gas company.
Lawmaker calls for action
In Nijboer’s view, Shell and Exxon are looking to exit the scene after reaping billions from gas extraction in Groningen. “It seems that Shell and Exxon are abandoning NAM in an attempt to evade their responsibility,” Nijboer wrote in his letter to Vijlbrief. “How will you ensure that not only NAM but also Shell and Exxon, as shareholders, remain liable for the damages and reinforcement efforts in Groningen for many years to come?” he further queried.
Nijboer is determined to prevent NAM from being sold off or dismantled, potentially leaving the future responsibility for Groningen unclear. He has inquired whether Vijlbrief is willing to summon Shell and Exxon executives in order to reach legally binding agreements on the issue and to ensure that they cannot escape their financial responsibilities, “neither now nor decades from now.”
NAM not commenting
NAM has remained silent on the reports of its sale. The deal, if it happens, could have serious implications as it would cast doubt on the ongoing commitment of Shell and ExxonMobil to addressing the consequences of gas extraction in Groningen, an area that has been plagued by tremors and subsidence linked to drilling activities.
NAM, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, is responsible for the extraction of natural gas from the Groningen gas field.
Gas production in the northern Netherlands has caused over 1,000 earthquakes, which have damaged homes, businesses, and infrastructure.