The Netherlands: The Gas Battle

On the wind-whipped Waddenzee Islands of The Netherlands last week, battered landing craft disgorged load after load of equipment and intense men from as far away as Texas, Kuwait and Brunei. Growling Land-Rovers raced up and down sandy stretches recently surrendered by vacationing Dutchmen; helicopters whirred overhead. The invaders represented some of the 24 oil companies that are gunning for a share of the world's second largest natural gas deposit (after Texas). The Dutch government conservatively estimates that 1,100 billion cubic meters of gas bubbles under the Waddenzee Islands and the northern provinces. Others reckon that the fields contain five...

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