Ex-minister Henk Kamp has a lot to tell the investigative committee

Ex-minister Henk Kamp has a lot to tell the investigative committee

The inquiry committee will question former minister Henk Kamp (Economic Affairs) on Friday. He was responsible for the gas dossier for five years (2012-2017). Kamp is therefore one of the most important witnesses. He arrived in Huizinge shortly after the earthquake. The following year, Kamp allowed gas extraction to increase, not decrease. This is one of the many issues that Groningen still wonders about.

On Friday afternoon, January 17, 2014, Kamp departs for Loppersum. More than a hundred activists are waiting for the minister. They hold banners and shout slogans.

That morning, the camp decided to reduce gas production in Loppersum by 80%. The limit for 2014 for the entire Groningen field will be 42.5 billion cubic meters.

The minister presents this as a substantial reduction. This is true; It is also a lower amount compared to previous years. It’s also a well-known trick. 42.5 billion cubic meters is exactly the average of the Groningen ceiling. In 2005, the company agreed with the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) that the company would be able to extract 425 billion cubic meters of gas over the next ten years.

Ministry approved higher production

Groningen had to wait a year for the decision. At the beginning of 2013, Kamp received a warning from the regulator to reduce gas extraction. This had to be done because there could be a stronger quake than expected. The camp then decides not to immediately follow this advice. He announced fourteen investigations.

Surveys will be held next year. At the same time, it seems that gas extraction in 2013 will be significantly higher than in the previous year. That is why gas production will not be reduced that year, as recommended by the supervisor Kamp, but much more gas will be pumped up.

This message will appear in January 2014 – the week it visited Kamp Loppersum to explain the decision of 2014 (reduction of gas production in Loppersum).

The camp will hold a press conference a few hours after his arrival. Activists cross the police barrier, loot the town hall and break windows.

Earthquakes are a fact of life

This is not the last time that the camp incurs the wrath of the Groningueurs.

In the autumn of 2014, an earthquake was felt in the city of Groningen. In response, Kamp says that the earthquake fits the mold. According to the minister, earthquakes are “a fact of life“.

The decision also misjudged coalition partner PvdA. Kamp then explains that his comment has been misinterpreted. “I didn’t want to put the earthquake into perspective in any way,” he told the House of Representatives.

Camp reduced gas extraction, but with help

In the years that followed, the camp gradually stopped extracting gas. It rose from 47.5 billion cubic meters in 2012 to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017. However, this does not always happen from the heart. The Council of State, the highest administrative court, has to intervene on several occasions.

The camp argues that the panting must consistently remain at a certain level in every debate in the House of Representatives. Otherwise you run the risk that people will be left behind or factories will not be able to run.

This argument was already called into question in 2018, when his successor, Minister Eric Wiebes, resolutely decided to turn off the tap completely as soon as possible.

Various interrogations in recent weeks have also shown that Kamp’s argument falters. The minister also seems to be aware of the increase in gas extraction in 2013. If he had intervened, he would have saved 8 billion cubic meters of gas.

Former minister Dijsselbloem will have to explain the role of the Treasury

Another interesting point that came up in previous meetings was the relationship between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. Kamp reportedly estimated peak production in 2014 at 40 billion, but that ended up being 42.5 billion. According to a former top official, this happened after an urgent report from the Ministry of Finance.

The Commission of Inquiry is looking for an answer to all these questions. Whether the camp can provide these answers will become clear this afternoon. In the morning, the committee first questions former minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Finance). Like Kamp, he was a minister in Rutte II’s cabinet.

Source: NU