Former Finance Minister Dijsselbloem was “very surprised” at the record production of natural gas in the year after the earthquake in Huizinge in 2012. He said he only heard in December 2013 that extraction had reached a much higher level than previously in the business plan of gas sales company Gasterra had stood.
When Dijsselbloem heard about the record production, he asked for clarification in the Council of Ministers, as he explained before the parliamentary committee of inquiry for gas extraction. The arguments that were given for this were wrong, he says now. For example, it was said that it had to do with a cold winter, which was not taken into account.
Dijsselbloem wonders who was responsible for continuing to open the gas tap. “I hope you‘ll uncover who did that,” the former minister told the parliamentary committee of inquiry.
According to him, he also did not take into account that gas extraction would be increased, because, according to him, it was logical to keep production at most the same.
After all, the advice of the State Mines Supervision (SoDm) was to reduce gas extraction as quickly and as realistically as possible. He called the different advice that came from the relevant knowledge institutes KNMI, TNO and gas extraction company NAM “a string”.
“We then found out that the institutions that should know that had very limited knowledge,” said Dijsselbloem. “I was very grumpy about that. The SoDm was going to calculate itself. It was astonishing how little knowledge had been built up about the earthquakes.”
Minister Camp for Economic Affairs therefore decided not to act immediately, but to first have 14 investigations carried out into the consequences of a production restriction. Dijsselbloem thought that was a right decision.
In retrospect, he says that, despite these studies, production should at least have been limited. “We certainly shouldn’t have allowed more to be won.”
Nevertheless, in 2014, Dijsselbloem himself wanted to extract more gas than the 40 billion cubic metres proposed to him by Minister Kamp. Dijsselbloem wanted it to be 42 billion. According to him, this had to do with the unclear advice about a safe production level of State Mines supervision. And because it would save a lot of gas benefits, he didn’t want to reduce production to that level.
“I don‘t want to hide it. The budget did not look good at the time. Finances always play a role, and I think that’s right.” At the end of his interrogation, Dijsselbloem emphasized once again that he was never discussed with him whether to open the gas tap further in 2013 due to budget problems.