In 2014, Dijsselbloem thought the treasury was more important than following the gas extraction advice

In 2014, Dijsselbloem thought the treasury was more important than following the gas extraction advice

At the insistence of then minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Finance), the upper limit for gas extraction in 2014 was set at 42.5 billion cubic meters instead of the recommended 40 billion cubic meters. Dijsselbloem admitted this on Friday morning during his interrogation by the parliamentary inquiry committee. At the same time, he said he was “surprised” to learn that outgassing in 2013 was significantly higher than a year ago.

At the time, it was Minister Henk Kamp (Economic Affairs) who wanted to follow the recommendations of the State Supervision of Mines (SodM). The regulator recommended setting a maximum gas production of 40 billion cubic meters for 2014.

“I could not accept it because of the enormous impact on the budget,” Dijsselbloem told the committee.

Dijsselbloem then held the treasury as Minister of Finance. The country was in an economic crisis. The budget deficit was above the European standard of 3%. For 2014, it has been agreed with the European Commission that the Netherlands will be given a one-year extension to streamline matters. The standard had to be met in 2015 and 2016.

Dijsselbloem was concerned about that. He estimated that it would be better not to return to 40 billion cubic meters of gas before 2016. If this step had already been taken in 2014, it would have cost more than 1.1 billion euros. In addition, “the guided cut has already been a huge burden on the budget”.

The camp feared that failure to follow the district regulator’s recommendations would lead to resistance. But in the end the company opted for the Dijsselbloem line.

“High production was a conscious choice in 2013”

The 2014 decision came after a year of investigation. In the summer of 2012, Groningen was rocked by a strong earthquake that led to new information about safety. SodM proposed to reduce gas extraction.

The cabinet did not immediately follow this advice and postponed the decision for a year. According to Dijsselbloem, the results of the public purse played no significant role in this. The main reason for this was the lack of information. Dijsselbloem underlines that experts are “undecided” and that SSM’s opinion is “just a piece of paper”.

In that year, gas extraction was not reduced, but more gas was extracted. Dijsselbloem says he finds this “incomprehensible”. The camp told the cabinet that this was due to a cold winter, less extraction from small farms and higher export obligations.

Dijsselbloem notes that “a certain number of arguments” never convinced him. He believes that “it was a conscious choice to remove extra gas.” “I hope you find it by who,” he said.

“Finance always plays a role”

The committee wants to know how this rhymes with demanding a higher ceiling for 2014 than the camp had in mind.

“I found the recommendation that it should be 40 billion cubic meters really unsatisfactory,” says Dijsselbloem. According to him, it is not well proven that exactly this number will ensure safety. He also considered the return to 42.5 billion cubic meters an “important step”.

Finances also played a role. ‘I don’t want to hide it. They always play a role,” he adds. Dijsselbloem admits that in retrospect he should have opted for 40 billion cubic meters. He also thinks it would be better to step up gas extraction in 2013.

Less participation in production from 2015

Dijsselbloem does not provide a clear answer to the committee’s questions about the 2015 2016 and 2017 gas extraction decisions. For example, the committee wants to know why the ceiling for 2015 was initially set at 39.4 billion cubic meters, while the regulator made 38.5 recommendations. billion cubic meters.

Dijsselbloem: “I was very concerned about the budget at the beginning of 2014, but by the end of 2014 it had really changed. “By that time, the economy was recovering and the budget was in calmer waters,” he says. “His intervention was much more limited,” he says, after 2014. He does not know why a maximum of 39.4 billion cubic meters was chosen.

Source: NU