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Grows with BrageWintershall is getting close to the takeover of the Brage field in the North Sea. Now the company needs to find approximately 240 new people who will work for the company by the end of this year, both offshore in Stavanger and Bergen.

Wintershall and Statoil signed a deal last October that the German company would take over as operator of the Brage field in the North Sea at the end of 2013. The company wanted as many employees as possible to join Wintershall. As a result they offered Brage employees in operation, maintenance and catering bonus and higher wages. Personnel in drilling and well service are not part of the deal. The deadline for responding to Wintershall was February 28.

- Over 150 offers were sent out in December, and over 100 accepted. Now we need to recruit some new employees, but we also need to replace some both offshore and onshore, says Head of the HR department at Wintershall Norge, Tone Samuelsen.

Almost 250 new employees
The acquisition means that Wintershall have to increase the number of employees from about the current 266 to about 500 by the end of 2013, both offshore and onshore. - We will launch a recruitment campaign in Stavanger and Bergen. For those working offshore we expect a training period, so we must recruit in two stages, says Samuelsen.

Samuelsen says that in order to build the organization around the Brage project, Wintershall will also establish an office in Bergen.

This office will open this summer. The plan is for it to be located in the Sandsli area, where Statoil also has its offices. The building must be large enough to accommodate between 50 and 100 employees, says Head of Production Operations at Brage, Alv-Bjørn Solheim.

Solheim is not worried that the company will manage to recruit the people they need. He says that as soon as the agreement with Statoil was signed in October, the résumés started to come. - Many people called us and sent us their résumés. After this agreement with Statoil many wants to come and work for us. The offer to change employer is voluntary and Wintershall have agreed with Statoil and unions for a return option of 18 months. – Of course we hope that all those who have said yes at this point will stay with us on when the time comes, said Samuelsen.

The employees contribute
Solheim says that it is expected that those who joins Wintershall will contribute with their experiences at Brage. - We are a small organization so there is a short way from the employees to the company management. The Brage project is therefore not a project where the management tells the employees what to do. The staff will be involved in shaping the way Wintershall will be working on in Norway, says Solheim. He adds that what is being developed on Brage will set the standard for the company's other operations at Maria and Skarfjell.

Solheim believes that people are starting to notice that Wintershall has long-term plans in Norway, on the Brage field, but also through the development of the two discoveries Maria and Skarfjell.

Works with Statoil
Wintershall is currently working close with Statoil to ensure that the transfer takes place as smooth as possible. The company also has a service agreement with Statoil that lasts for 12 months from the acquisition, with an option for six months after that. - This is not something that happens by itself. Currently between 150 and 200 employees are working from both companies to achieve this, says Solheim.

- On Brage, we plan to continue production until 2030. There are many challenges associated with an old platform. But now we are eager to see if we can increase the recovery rate on the field. Together with our parent company, BASF, we have developed a number of technologies that we can use. Wintershall has a lot of experience in other countries when it comes to increased oil recovery.

The Brage Agreement
- Statoil and German Wintershall announced on October 22 that they signed an agreement to exchange licenses. The agreement gives Statoil a net dividend of NOK 8.2 billion (€ 1, 09 billion). This is the biggest deal Wintershall has ever done.

- Statoil sells the Brage field. This means that Wintershall is the operator of a producing field on the Norwegian continental shelf for the first time.

- The offer to the employees includes a bonus of 15 percent, or an average of NOK 98.000 (€ 13 000) paid after an 18 month working period in Wintershall. Those who wish may return to Statoil after this period. A bonus of 35 percent, or an average of NOK 202,000 (€ 27 000), will be paid on top to those remaining in Wintershall after the trial. A salary increase of 6 percent is in the offering pot for offshore employees with standard wages.

- Wintershall Norge also acquires interests in the producing fields Vega (30 percent) and Gjøa (15 percent) from Statoil.

- The agreement means that Wintershall Norge will increase its daily production of 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to nearly 40,000 barrels per day in 2013. The company will thus be one of the biggest producers on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Source: Stavanger Aftenblad, March 16, 2013

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