‘Rutte helped Shell with a hydrogen subsidy of 150 million euros via goat paths’

Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) has helped Shell get a subsidy of 150 million euros that the oil company threatened to miss due to carelessness. Internal reports show that officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs managed to get the subsidy amount to Shell with ‘goat paths’ and a ‘flexible’ interpretation of the requirements. That writes research platform Follow the Money Friday.

The money will be used for the construction of the Holland Hydrogen I: the largest green hydrogen factory in Europe, which is to be built on Maasvlakte 2. The intended costs for this amount to 684 million euros. Shell had Rutte announce the construction on July 6, 2022, while no subsidy application had yet been submitted. Due to this haste, the project was in danger of becoming completely ineligible for the hydrogen subsidy. For a subsidy application, a company must be able to substantiate that the project cannot take place without state support and that is not plausible if it has already been announced.

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With the help of Rutte via officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, several goat paths were looked at in order to be able to register the subsidy in Brussels after all. The oil company threatened to withdraw the project if it does not receive the subsidy. Shell argued that last July’s announcement was not a final investment decision, a line the officials agreed with. They forwarded the proposal to Brussels, where the European Commission awarded the subsidy of 150 million euros to Shell, which recorded a record profit of 38.5 billion euros in 2022.