North Sea: five oil discoveries in just one yearRecent success with the Maria and Blakeney wells / Discoveries lay foundations for further growth in North Sea / "Continental shelf still has significant potential"
Stavanger / Kassel. The largest German oil and gas producer, Wintershall, continues to make headway on the path to becoming one of the leading operators on the Norwegian continental shelf. The company has now discovered five new oil fields in the North Sea in just one year, it announced at the international trade fair “Offshore Northern Seas” (ONS) in Stavanger. “The expansion of our activities in our core region North Sea, especially on the Norwegian continental shelf, is making good progress,” Martin Bachmann, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall Holding GmbH and responsible for Exploration and Production, explained. Following the success of Wintershall’s own operated wells “Grosbeak” and “Maria” (both offshore Norway), Wintershall has now also struck oil with its third operated well, Blakeney, around 150 kilometers east of Aberdeen in the British pro-duction license P1619. Wintershall holds a 75% stake in the discovery, the Canadian company Sterling Resources holds a 25% interest. The size of the find is estimated at 60 to 100 million barrels of oil in place.
The “Maria” discovery about 200 kilometers off the coast of Trondheim is estimated to be one of the largest oil discoveries in Norway so far this year. The success of the three Wintershall-operated wells is complemented by two other successful exploration wells in which Wintershall is involved as a partner. Wintershall has a 20% stake in the so-called Catcher field, which was discovered in the British North Sea in June. The very promising area will shortly be assessed with further wells to determine whether additional deposits can be demonstrated. In addition, the well Beta, 15 kilometers north-west of the Snorre field, proved oil in the northern North Sea. Wintershall also has a working interest in exploration well “Cladhan” in the British North Sea and is planning to sink more wells on the Norwegian continental shelf this year.
Wintershall focuses on the full E+P life cycle in Norway
“These excellent new discoveries increase the growth potential of our portfolio in the North Sea considerably and show that we are on the right track,” Martin Bachmann said. He explained that Wintershall would continue to invest heavily in the North Sea region and especially Norway. “In Norway, our investments are focused on the entire E&P life cycle - from exploration to production. This is certainly not a strategy practiced by all international E+P companies in Norway these days. We believe in the potential on the Norwegian continental shelf. Hence, we not only want to invest here for the longterms; we also want to get actively involved as an operator,” Bachmann explained at the international trade fair in Stavanger. Wintershall is spending almost 50 percent of its exploration budget in Norway this year. “Bernd Schrimpf, the new Managing Director of Wintershall Norge, and his excellent team in Norway are ideally qualified to travel this ambitious path successfully.” Bachmann also thanked Harald Vabø for his outstanding and pioneering work.
Wintershall is one of the largest license holders in Norway with around 40 licenses – and is the operator in almost half of them. The company is targeting a production level in Norway of around 50,000 BOE per day by 2015. The activities in the Northern North Sea are coordinated from Stavanger, the heart of Norway’s oil and gas industry and the headquarters of Wintershall Norge ASA.
Experience and responsibility as operator
The North Sea is one of Wintershall’s traditional core regions. The wholly owned BASF subsidiary has been active in the North Sea since 1965 and currently operates 25 crude oil and natural gas platforms in the Dutch North Sea, and one in the German North Sea. Moreover, Wintershall sets standards in this region: in order to further improve the efficiency of its operations in the southern section of the North Sea, Wintershall has been controlling 19 of its 26 offshore platforms centrally from land with one of the most modern radio surveillance systems for about two years now. This reduces the number of helicopter flights needed to the platforms by a third. Furthermore, the increased efficiency in platform operations makes production from smaller and older reservoirs commercially viable. Rijswijk, near The Hague, is home to the corporate-wide Competence Center for Offshore Technology and also the headquarters of Wintershall Noordzee, which manages the activities in the southern North Sea. Wintershall also produces crude oil from Germany’s Wattenmeer national park together with the German company RWE Dea. Production from the ecologically sensitive area has been running without incident for more than 20 years.