The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) has a conflict with the state over the bill for earthquake damage. In the third quarter of 2020, the company did not contribute to the costs of repairing and restoring homes in the Groningen earthquake area. This is evident from the annual report that the company published on Tuesday.
The Assense joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil has not been involved in earthquake damage settlement since 2017. Instead, the state initially pays compensation to residents, and then deals with the oil and gas company for which portion it is liable. This has been arranged because for years there was great dissatisfaction among residents of the quake area about the fact that they themselves had to argue with the gas generator.
A similar construction exists for the so-called ‘strengthening’ of homes, whereby they are made safer preventively. According to NAM, in the third quarter of 2020 there was no ‘adequate substantiation’ of the ‘bill’ it received from the state for reinforcement and claims settlement. NAM believes it is liable for less costs than the state. The NAM says it has asked the ministries of Economic Affairs and the Interior several times to substantiate the costs incurred. It is not known exactly what costs are involved.
Minister Bas van ‘t Wout (Economic Affairs, VVD) wrote in a letter to Parliament from the end of March about the disagreement with NAM: “I will strictly ensure that all costs that can be charged to NAM will also be charged. are being brought.” The likelihood that the dispute would eventually lead to legal proceedings was, according to him, ‘real’. Van ‘t Wout: “The cabinet is preparing for this and will not leave any legal means unused.”
Also read this reconstruction about strengthening Groningen homes: Despite promises from The Hague, reinforcement of Groningen houses does not go smoothly
2020 was a bad year for NAM. The gas and oil extractor, which, in addition to Groningen, is mainly active in Schoonebeek, suffered a loss of 315 million euros. The loss is caused by declining gas production in Groningen, low gas prices and financial provisions for earthquake damage. Due to the relatively warm winter months, even less gas was extracted than allowed.
2021 started better for NAM. Oil and gas prices are back to pre-corona pandemic levels. An even more far-reaching reorganization, with the number of employees already falling from nearly 1,300 to more than 1,100 between 2019 and 2020, should also reduce costs.