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Groningen Gas, Netherlands

The biggest gas field in Europe has caused more than 1000 earthquakes. The houses of up to 100,000 people have been damaged, some of them beyond repair. Shell, Exxon and the Dutch state owned company EBN refuse to fully compensate


The Groningen field is Europe's biggest gasfield. Supplying low caloric gas to households, buildings and greenhouses for heating in the Netherlands, and parts of Germany, Belgium and France. It is operated by Shell, in a joint venture with Exxon Mobile and Dutch State company EBN.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Groningen Gas, Netherlands
State or province:Groningen
Location of conflict:Groningen
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

On 22 July 1959, the Slochteren 1 well, drilling to a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), discovered the huge 2.8 trillion cubic meters (100 trillion cubic feet) gas field in the porous Rotliegend sandstone formation, which is 130 metres (430 ft) to 140 metres (460 ft) thick and 45 kilometres (28 mi) long from north to south by 25 kilometres (16 mi) long from east to west. The field started production in 1963 and produced around 100 billion cubic meters (3.57 trillion cubic feet) per year in the first decade of production but gradually the annual production fell to around 35 billion cubic meters (1.25 trillion cubic feet) per year.

Project area:90,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:100.000
Start of the conflict:26/12/1986
Company names or state enterprises:Energie Beheer Nederland (EBN) from Netherlands - Groningen gas
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Ministerie van Economische Zaken (
Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen ( )
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Milieudefensie ( )
Groninger Bodem Beweging (
GroenFront! (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Other Environmental impactsInduced Earthquakes
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsHuge loss in property value, economic loss,
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Institutional changes
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Shut down the gasfield and create sustainable heating in all buildings in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
And repair and compensate the damage without the interference of Shell.
Give the area a new economic future
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Outcome still undecided although important victories are won.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

De Stille beving (movie)
[click to view]

[1] Reuters, March 2018

Netherlands to halt gas production at Groningen by 2030
[click to view]

Visuals blog by Kor Dwarshuis about Groningen
[click to view]

BBC News - Groningen gas fields - the Dutch earthquake zone
[click to view]

The Guardian - Shell and Exxon's €5bn problem: gas drilling that sets off earthquakes and wrecks homes
[click to view]

The Energy Collective - Groningen Gas Production and Earthquakes: Safety at All Cost?
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Since the gas field was discovered in the region of Groningen in the 50's, a lot of earthquakes have hit the province. The debate about stopping the gas extraction is now being held. What do Groningen people think about this? Should the gas company and the Government stop the extraction?
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Milieudefensie [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2693
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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