Wintershall’s largest ever platform goes on stream in the North Sea off the Netherlands
Exploration begins in the North Sea off the United Kingdom
Concessions in Norway
Kassel. Wintershall’s largest production platform, the F16-A, went on stream in the North Sea off the Netherlands in December. It can process up to 6 million cubic meters of natural gas every day, comprises seven levels and weighs 3600 tonnes. Wintershall is essentially planning its own offshore platforms in the Dutch North Sea. Up to 270 skilled workers and mechanics worked on the F16-A at any one time in the shipyard near Rotterdam and construction lasted 13 months. The F16-A is completely self-contained: a six-strong crew plus cook and steward produce their own drinking water using a desalination plant and a mini power station generates electricity using natural gas from the field. The D12-A went live as early as February 2005. The field from which it produces gas lies at a depth of around 3500 meters.
Wintershall has been active in the Dutch sector of the North Sea since 1965 via its subsidiary Wintershall Noordzee B.V. Today, it is the third largest producer of natural gas in the Netherlands and operates more than 20 offshore platforms. Wintershall invested around EUR 250 million in this part of the North Sea between 2001 and 2004 and was involved in five completed exploration and appraisal wells in the same region in 2005. Four have proved new natural gas reservoirs or expanded previously discovered fields. Wintershall Noordzee B.V. is based in The Hague, also home to the corporate-wide competence center for offshore technology. The expansion of offshore expertise is generally gaining importance in the exploration and production of oil and gas, and the company applies this expertise to its activities in other regions of the world.
The extent to which advances in technology can prolong the production time of a reservoir is currently clear for all to see at the Kotter and Logger oil fields fifty kilometers west of Den Helder. Since production from the fields dropped to 1000 barrels a day, the original owners had wanted to halt production. But Wintershall had other ideas and, as the new owner, put in place measures to continue production until 2010. It is now around 2000 barrels a day.
Wintershall is also breaking new ground when it comes to combining economy and ecology. The disused K10-V gas production platform is currently undergoing extensive conversion work and should be ready for use again by the end of 2006. It will be called L5-C after the field of the same name in the Dutch North Sea.
Offshore expertise in the North Sea
Wintershall runs the first and, to date, the only offshore natural gas production platform in the German section of the North Sea, the A6-A, approximately 300 kilometers north west of the Elb estuary.
Wintershall acquired 15 exploration blocks offshore the United Kingdom in 2004 and 2005. These blocks are near areas in the Dutch sector that Wintershall has already explored geologically and production has already started in some parts. The necessary infrastructure is also largely in place. Two exploratory wells in the new blocks are planned for 2006.
In Denmark, the Wintershall subsidiary Wintershall Noordzee has submitted a joint application with EWE and Norsk Hydro for 3 license regions in a bidding round. The results of this round are expected in early 2006.
Norway, with its proximity to the European market, is predestined for natural gas supplies and is therefore an ideal production site for the Wintershall ’Gas for Europe’ strategy. Indeed Norway’s large oil and gas reserves are already tied to major Western European markets. For these reasons, Wintershall is planning to extend its North Sea activities in Norway too. Wintershall was granted approval as an E&P company for the Norwegian continental shelf in late 2004. Wintershall’s current partners in Norway are Norsk Hydro and the Danish company Maersk. Wintershall Norge A.S. was registered in October last year and the company will soon be opening its offices in Oslo. Wintershall has also signed a concession agreement with Norsk Hydro giving Wintershall a 20% interest in the license for block PL353 in the Norwegian North Sea. Wintershall has therefore established itself in Norway as an active E&P company.
A further step towards the expansion of Wintershall’s presence in Norway was taken in December 2005 with the allocation of 2 license regions for which Wintershall had submitted an application in a consortium with partners that include Norsk Hydro and Maersk. Wintershall is planning to further broaden its portfolio in Norway in 2006. Indeed the beginning of the year could well see the allocation of another license applied for by the Norsk Hydro/Wintershall consortium during a further bidding round. Offers to participate in existing projects are currently under review but in-house project plans will also be actively pursued.
Wintershall AG, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF AG in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for more than 70 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions, where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, North Africa, South America, as well as Russia and the Caspian Sea area. Today, the company is Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer.
More information at www.wintershall.com