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Research questions parliamentary inquiry natural gas extraction Groningen

The parliamentary inquiry covers a very large period of time. No other parliamentary inquiry in the past thirty years has covered such a large period of time. The temporary committee divided the broad time span into three periods: "after Slochteren" (1959-1986), "after Assen" (1986-2012) and "after Huizinge" (2012-present). She formulated research questions covering the entire period and sub-questions for each period. 


Below are the research questions formulated by the temporary committee. The questions have been taken verbatim from the research proposal (translation Knowledge Platform). 


Main questions for the entire research period


  1. Broadly speaking, what happened during the period 1959-2021 with regard to natural gas extraction in Groningen and the associated risks? What are milestones and defining moments in the history of natural gas extraction in Groningen and why? What knowledge was available for whom at what time?

  2. How does the ‘Gas Edifice’ function (the construction between NAM, Shell and the state on the distribution of benefits and burdens in gas extraction)? Which parties are involved in the Gas Edifice and what interests and considerations play a role? What decisions have been taken? What agreements have been made and how have they changed over time?

  3. What decisions did the government take about natural gas extraction in Groningen? How did these decisions come about, how was the House of Representatives informed and at what times did the House of Representatives have influence on the decision-making process?

  4. What were the roles of the government, the House of representatives, private parties, local authorities and local actors in the decision-making process? What were the consequences of their actions for the residents of Groningen? In what way were the residents of Groningen involved in the decision-making process, what role did they play and how were their interests taken into account?

  5. What lessons can be drawn from the analysis of Groningen's natural gas extraction?

      (Temporary Committee on Natural Gas Extraction Groningen, 2021)

Period 1: after Slochteren, expeditious gas extraction

  • How was the Gas Edifice organised and what agreements were made between government and private parties about natural gas extraction?

  • What were the reasons for questioning or adjusting the agreements made in this regard?

  • To what extent were the private parties, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the regulator and local actors aware of the possible risks of natural gas extraction and how were they dealt with?


Period 2: after Assen, subsidence and earthquakes

  • When did which parties become aware that natural gas extraction might lead to ground-subsidence or earthquakes? What was the reaction of these parties?

  • Which studies into ground-subsidence and earthquakes in Groningen were conducted during this period and what was done with the results? Which parties were involved? Who determined what research was carried out and how was it financed?

  • What agreements were made during this period between the government, Energie Beheer Nederland (EBN), Maatschap Groningen and the Dutch Patroleum Company (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij NAM)/oil companies about the settlement of claims? What was the influence of the private parties on these agreements?

  • To what extent was consideration given when the Mining Act was introduced in 2003 to whether adjustment of the Gas Edifice and the concession of the Groningen field was necessary or desirable?

  • What explains that various parties involved, such as the NAM, for a relatively long time did not establish a direct link between natural gas extraction and the occurrence of earthquakes? What led to a turnaround in thinking and acting on this point? What was the role of the authorities and regulators involved in this?

  • To what extent was financial compensation for Groningen discussed during this period and what did it lead to?


Period 3a: after Huizinge, reduction of gas extraction

  • How were and are the costs and benefits of gas extraction distributed?

  • What is the reason for scaling up natural gas extraction in 2013, shortly after the earthquake in Huizinge, how did that process go and who was in charge? How was advice that advocated scaling down natural gas extraction dealt with?

  • What was the significance of the fourteen studies commissioned by the Minister of Economic Affairs in 2013 in response to the increased number of earthquakes?

  • How did the process of phasing out natural gas extraction proceed? What arguments were used for this? What considerations were made regarding the pace of reduction and the final level chosen? What role did court decisions, the importance of security of supply and possible financial consequences play? What influence did private parties have on the decision-making process?

  • What agreements have been made on this between the government and the parties involved in the Gas Edifice?


Period 3b: after Huizinge, damage repair and reinforcement

  • How was the handling of damage cases shaped under NAM's responsibility? What work instructions were given to damage assessors and construction supervisors? What was the role of the authorities and supervisors involved? Has the way of thinking and acting of the parties involved changed over time?

  • Why did the damage assessment and reinforcement operation take place in a fragmented way, both in terms of time and structure? What is the reason that a draft bill to strengthen the position of the National Coordinator Groningen has not been submitted?

  • How did the change from dealing with damage under private law to dealing with it under public law take shape? How does this work in practice? What work instructions were given to damage assessors and construction supervisors? What agreements were made with the private parties? What was the influence of private parties on the organization of the damage control and reinforcement processes?

  • How did public and private parties involved in natural gas extraction deal with the issue of liability for the consequences of natural gas extraction? What were the consequences for victims? What was the role of insurers in this process?

  • How were the administrative agreements between the national government and the decentralized authorities implemented and how were the Groningers involved?

  • To what extent does the policy and its implementation ensure that damages suffered are actually remedied and/or compensated? How did the policy initiatives deal with the degree of participation or decision space for the victims and to what extent was this realised in practice? To what extent does the policy guarantee a uniform treatment of damage cases and reinforcement in different cases?

  • To what extent have the recommendations from the 2015 and 2017 Dutch Safety Board reports been followed up?

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