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Evidence from a six-week investigation into what went wrong in Groningen shows that the economy minister took the gas company more seriously than the government’s safety supervisor.

This week, an inquiry was reopened into why decades of gas drilling have caused more earthquakes than ever before, damaging locals, and why compensation schemes have failed so badly.10 It will be held until the 14th of the month.

Jan de Jong, the SodM supervisor’s former mining inspector general, has criticized former minister Henk Kamp for not accepting urgent advice to cut gas extraction in 2013, the NOS reports.

De Jong said there was a backdoor communication between the government responsible for the mining and NAM, which is owned by Shell and ExxonMobil. “I thought it was strange that behind us there was a letter addressed to the Minister,” he said. “We thought NAM was taken more seriously than our advice.”

Former NAM director Bart van de Leemput told the inquiry there was a “long list” that could have done better, the NOS reports. But he pointed to NAM shareholders Shell and his ExxonMobil. Together with the state, they were responsible for the scale of gas production.

However, investigative members said it was true that NAM had lobbied for more gas production.

The purpose of the investigation is to find out who was responsible for the wrong decisions, damages and wasted compensation. According to CBS, the Dutch government has profited from gas mining since the 1960s, earning more than €417 billion.

On Thursday afternoon, Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Economy from 2010 to 2012, will be questioned.

Graphics: State profits from Groningengas, Cumulative Image: CBS

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