Many people don't realise that the Netherlands is an oil producing nation. From the 1940s until 1996, oil was produced in this area of the Netherlands. Many pumpjacks still stand as a memory of this time, but the only one I've seen running is that in the video (it's for tourists and doesn't still produce oil). I suspect that Google's Street View doesn't include images of cyclists riding on cycle paths past oil pumps in many other places.
It's another of those myths and excuses - that only a country with no natural resources, without oil and without a car industry would support cycling. However, here's a nation which started supporting cycling right at the time when its oil production was highest.
While the pumpjacks (jaknikkers in Dutch) no longer operate, oil is now being produced in this country again. There's a new technique, involving pumping steam underground which comes back up with oil and gas. The gas is burnt in a power station which contributes to the local electricity supply as well as generating more steam.
|Oil is glowing out of the ground in the Netherlands right|
now through these pipes.
Assen is where the headquarters of NAM are based. That's the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij - Dutch Oil Company. It's not a particularly famous company in itself, but it's a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell (itself a Dutch company, of course and one of the largest employers in the Netherlands) and ExxonMobil - two companies which are known around the world.
And it's not only oil. Some readers may have heard of the Groningen Gas Field. The largest deposit of natural gas in Europe is right beneath our feet here, and pumping stations for gas are distributed around the local landscape, pumping from both this large field and several smaller ones. These stations are small and only really noticed if you look for them. One of them is about half a kilometre from our home. I cycle past it quite regularly, as do thousands of other people:
Two more videos about local oil production:
Another pump, this time outside the NAM building in Assen. NAM is one of the largest employers in this city:
Related blog posts have shown how the cost of running a car in different countries is not related strongly to the cycling rate, nor indeed to how easy it is to afford to buy a car. Contrary to many opinions expressed in other countries, The Netherlands really has not pursued anti-car policies.
I mentioned a car industry back a bit in this post. They don't make cars any more, but surely most people have heard of DAF trucks. In the last week, proposals to increase the speed at which you can drive, and thus burn more fuel, have been raised in both the Netherlands and the UK have this week. Jaknikkers still operate just across the border in Germany.