The Netherlands Petroleum Corporation (NAM) largely pumped a gas well in Drenthe before the Ministry of Economic Affairs granted permission to do so. This is evidenced by the reconstructions made by RTV Drenthe, RTV Noord, Platform Authentieke Journalistiek and Follow the Money based on 2,500 documents issued by the municipality of Assen.
The documents were highlighted in Wob’s request to expose the links between Shell and the government, the so-called Shell Papers.
In November 2018, the Non-Aligned Movement received permission from the ministry to extract gas in the Asir field, of which Faris 10 is a part. Documents show that the well was almost empty by that time and production ceased the following month. The Non-Aligned Movement reported this to the Stop Gaswinning Marsdijk working group after only 2.5 years, while it had already gone to court in 2018 to stop winning at Asser Fields.
In 2015, NAM conducted the first trial drilling of the Vries-10 gas well. The municipality of Assen was then informed that an estimated 400 million cubic meters of gas could be extracted. Due to a change in the mining law, the county and municipalities will have an advisory role in the extraction plan, but it remains unclear what exactly this process will look like.
Meanwhile, NAM was allowed to continue extraction from various gas wells between Vries and Assen, as long as the current extraction plan ceiling from 2011 was not exceeded.
However, municipal authorities in Aa en Hunze, Assen and Tynaarlo have asked NAM to wait a little longer, because municipal councils still have to provide advice. The company wrote at the end of November 2016 that the Non-Aligned Movement was involved in this, but later returned to it and started extracting the gas after all.
That is why the city council of Assen adopted a mourning movement in 2017 about the actions of the Non-Aligned Movement. The board accused the company of violating agreements and deliberately bad communication.
Rather empty than expected
Final ministry approval for the win was only granted in November 2018, but the Non-Aligned Movement was already pumping gas from the field before that. In 2017, that was around ten million cubic meters, according to RTV Drenthe.
In December 2018 – one month after the extraction plan was officially approved – production ceased in Vries-10. The well was empty. At that time, more than 200 million cubic meters of gas had been extracted, that is, half of the 400 cubic meters that the Non-Aligned Movement calculated for.
In the same period, the Workgroup Stop Gas Winning Marsdijk went to court to stop winning in the fields near Assen. This case continues. A recent interim ruling shows that NAM may implement the extraction scheme for capturing fields with some minor modifications. The final verdict has not yet been followed.