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Investments will double: Apprehension about supplier and engineer shortageStudies commissioned by Wintershall indicate that the shelf-related service market will probably expand to annual levels worth around NOK 300 billions. Bernd Schrimpf, Managing Director at Wintershall Norge, is concerned that Norway is not equipped to tackle the resulting increase in contract work.

The magazine Teknisk Ukeblad is interviewing Schrimpf in DnB Nor’s offices at Aker Brygge where he has just made a speech at an energy conference organised by the German Chamber of Commerce. The German executive sees major opportunities on the Norwegian shelf, but also major challenges for the industry.

"If Norway intends to maintain current production levels on the Norwegian shelf, 100 smaller development projects must be carried out during the next ten years. Studies commissioned by us and carried out by Rystad Energy indicate that the service market will expand and reach annual levels worth NOK 300 billion. I am wondering whether the Norwegian service and supply sector is prepared for this expansion. It is also difficult to see how Norway will find enough engineers to carry out all this work", he says.

The Wintershall executive emphasises that he is impressed with the quality of Norwegian engineers. "You have an impressive number of women in technical positions”, he says. Norway is at least ten years ahead of other naturally comparable countries. However, this is probably not sufficient, and I believe that the entire industry must join forces to procure engineers from other countries".

If a capacity gap arises Schrimpf is concerned that the result will be a costs explosion. “The 300 billions I mentioned are based on current price levels. If capacity problems arise, these figures can increase radically. However, the capacity gap will still remain”.

Wintershall is making major investments on the Norwegian shelf. "Fifty per cent of our global exploration budget is focused on the North Sea", says Schrimpf. "During the coming years we have development projects worth in excess of 8 billion kroner in this area. The lion’s share is being spent on the Norwegian shelf, with the exception of one project in the UK. Our aim is to achieve production of 50 000 barrels per day by 2015.  The most important projects contributing to this will be Yme, Knarr, Luno and Maria", he says.

"At the same time we are also keen to explore for new resources. The challenge is access to acreage. For this reason we were active in the last APA round, and I have great hopes that we will be rewarded with some of the exciting licences we applied for", says Schrimpf.

He says that Wintershall is focusing on a combination of smaller fields close to existing infrastructure and those which he calls "company makers". "When we look to the future it is vital that a company like ours makes some major discoveries. For this reason we are focusing on high-risk prospects with major potential", he says.

On the Norwegian and UK shelves, the company is primarily on the look out for oil. "We are big players in gas in the Netherlands, Russia and Argentina", says Schrimpf. "So we are trying to balance things out with oil discoveries in the North Sea. We shan’t complain if we make a big gas discovery in the North Sea – but our major focus is on oil".

The Maria discovery made in 2010 is one of Wintershall’s key discoveries. "We have a fifty per cent interest in this discovery on Haltenbanken", says Schrimpf. "Our provisional resource estimate is between 60 and 120 million barrels, and we aim to explore for more resources in the area. Results will determine whether we settle on a "tie in" development to an existing field, or a stand-alone development project. We are in the process of entering the project’s design phase, and we need a staff of between 60 and 80 personnel from various disciplines just for this project alone. This gives an indication of the levels of expertise needed on the Norwegian shelf in the years to come", he says.


Contact: Verena Sattel

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