Compliance of the Dutch Oil and Gas Sector to OECD Guidelines

This report presents the results of a study on the extent to which the oil and gas sector operating in the Netherlands adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The study covered the following topics:

  • the sector’s impacts on society, both in the Netherlands and abroad;
  • how and to what extent the sector is currently implementing the OECD Guidelines;
  • considerations on how the sector can guarantee, maintain or improve implementation of the OECD Guidelines.

In this study the Dutch oil and gas (O&G) sector is defined as all companies with a representation (e.g. office or installation) on Dutch territory that conduct activities related to the exploration, extraction, refinement and adaptation, sale, trade and transport of (fossil fuel-based) oil and natural gas products. The research methods employed were a survey among 81 companies (with a response rate of 40-50%), literature research, international database analysis and interviews. The results show that the sector has many activities that can be recognized as efforts to comply with the OECD Guidelines. However, there is less conformity to the Guidelines  when it comes to the operational steps of the ‘due diligence’ framework: tracking performance, communicating transparently and enabling remediation. Moreover, in the ‘trading’ and ‘distribution to consumers’ subsectors, our study suggests that CSR policies are less frequently implemented. In addition, CSR practices seem to be less common in smaller companies than in larger ones.

The effectiveness of the Responsible Business Conduct policies was analysed by examining three dossiers: ‘dirty diesel’, methane emissions and the extent to which the Dutch O&G sector features in the OECD Guidelines’ complaint mechanism (the so-called ‘NCP cases’) and the nature of these cases. Appraisal of these dossiers indicates challenges in applying the OECD Guidelines to concrete, real-world situations, where companies are operating in competitive markets and short-term financial gains may take preference over long-term benefits to society and the environment.

At the end of January, 2019 the NCP presented the research conducted by CE Delft/Arcadis, accompanied by a covering letter to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. On 18 April, 2019 the Minister sent the NCP’s letter together with the report and an appreciation by the Cabinet to the Dutch Parliament. This letter and appreciation are available in Dutch only.



Arcadis: David Thelen, Mathijs Bicknese

With assistence from Robert Vergeer, Lonneke de Graaff (CE Delft), Douwe Fisscher and Garnt Swinkels (Arcadis)