World Gas Conference: Wintershall on growth course
Substantial increase in oil and gas production
Yuzhno Russkoye reaches plateau production
Further expansion of North Sea operations
Buenos Aires. The German crude oil and natural gas producer Wintershall is continuing to expand its international activities. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF SE, remains on growth course despite the general economic downturn. “Following on from the significant increases in production over the last few years, we are now aiming to expand production of crude oil and natural gas to over 140 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2010”, Dr. Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall Holding AG, underlined at the start of the World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires. This represents a rise of eight percent compared to production in 2008, which reached 130 million barrels of oil equivalent. “It is primarily our activities in Russia that are driving up production at the moment. For example, we have already reached plateau production in the Yuzhno Russkoye field sooner than planned. All 142 production wells are now in operation there”, Dr. Seele explained. The second project, production from the deep-lying Achimov Formation, is proceeding very well. “The first six wells are already producing despite the fact that the deposit is difficult to develop. This is a great success for German-Russian cooperation”, Dr. Seele continued. As well as boosting production in Russia, Wintershall has also stepped up its activities in the North Sea. The company discovered a significant reserve off the coast of Norway with the first exploration well following the acquisition of Revus Energy ASA. With 55 licenses overall, Wintershall is now the fourth-largest license holder in Norway, and has thus laid the foundations for further growth. In addition, the company is also planning to proceed with new projects in the Middle East.
In Argentina, which is this year hosting the World Gas Conference, which is the world’s most important get-together for the gas industry, Wintershall is one of the biggest producers in the country; it has an annual production of about 25 million barrels of oil equivalent there and participating interests in 15 oil and gas fields. Wintershall also operates the southernmost natural gas platform in the world off the coast of Tierra del Fuego together with TOTAL Austral S.A. and Pan American Energy L.L.C. The consortium aims to produce a total of around 56 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 3.4 million tons of condensate and 2.4 million tons of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) from the Carina and Aries fields by 2027. The first production wells are currently being drilled in the Central-West field of the Aguada Pichana concession, where there is a tight-gas deposit. “In Argentina Wintershall is focusing on searching for new natural gas and crude oil reserves and on applying our tight gas expertise”, Dr. Seele explained. In the southern continent Wintershall explores both in regions that have not yet been geologically developed, such as the Cañadón Asfalto Basin in central Argentina, and in regions such as the Neuquén Basin, where hydrocarbons have already been discovered and are being produced. Wintershall concentrates there primarily on new resources in deeper-lying, more complex rock strata. The company currently holds interests in four Argentinean exploration blocks. In addition, in 2008, the Argentinean Wintershall subsidiary was awarded an exploration license in neighboring Chile for the first time and is thus continuing to expand its portfolio in the core region South America.
Yuzhno Russkoye reaches plateau production
Wintershall is also open to additional new projects in its core region Russia. “The experience we have acquired with Yuzhno Russkoye and Achimgaz, our other joint production project with Gazprom, can pave the way for Wintershall to embark on further activities in Russia”, Dr. Seele explained at the World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires and confirmed talks about additional joint projects with Gazprom.
Just one year after production operations commenced at Achimgaz, the first six gas and condensate wells planned are now in operation. The hydrofracturing of the boreholes was also successful. This technique increases the flow of gas underground into the deposit by fracturing the rock of the deposit, a complex but proven procedure that Wintershall already applies to its ‘tight gas’ projects in Leer and Söhlingen in the north of Germany. Both partners contribute their strengths to the Achimgaz project. Gazprom has decades of experience in producing gas in Arctic regions, while Wintershall is used to working with deposits that are technically difficult to access, and contributes its expertise in extended-reach drilling and in production technology to the shared project. “We have shown that knowhow and the cooperation of our experts with Gazprom can take our projects forward. It is not by chance that we are a respected partner in the E&P industry. That naturally qualifies us for other projects in Russia”, Dr. Seele said.
“Russia has the largest reserves of natural gas in the world, so naturally our operations there play a key role in the overall development of Wintershall”, the Chairman of the Board explained, adding that they had also managed to achieve an even more balanced portfolio in the last few years. In particular its activities in the North Sea had put the company in a much stronger position, he said. “About half of the natural gas consumed in Europe today still comes from the countries bordering on the North Sea – Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Germany. We are concentrating on the North Sea as a domestic production region within our Gas for Europe strategy”, Dr. Seele explained. Moreover, the company has laid the foundations for further growth in the region with the acquisition of the Norwegian company Revus Energy ASA (now Wintershall Norge ASA). “Our initial drilling in Norway has increased the potential for a significant find, and also the probability of other resources in this region", Dr. Seele underlined. Wintershall Norge has already reserved rig capacities for follow- up drilling next year. In May Wintershall also managed to win a 20% share in each of two offshore exploration licenses in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea as part of a new bidding round by the Norwegian State.
WINGAS braves the financial crisis
In Wintershall’s second segment, natural gas trading, the German-Russian joint venture WINGAS has managed to maintain its strong position on the German and European natural gas market – despite the general economic downturn. In particular sales outside Germany and trading on the spot markets increased in the first six months of the year. The resulting growth in volumes sold was not, however, able to fully offset the decrease in sales in Germany triggered by the economic downturn. Yet in the first half year of 2009 WINGAS sales decreased by just 7.1 billion kilowatt hours (-4.6 percent). “We are still confident that we will almost match the record sales in 2008 by the end of this financial year”, Dr. Gerhard König, Chairman of WINGAS and member of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall Holding AG responsible for Natural Gas, explained to journalists in Buenos Aires. With sales of 30.3 billion cubic meters in 2008, WINGAS achieved the highest sales in the company’s history. “We want to consolidate this high level of sales despite the economic crisis”, Dr. König said.
Wintershall, 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 over 75 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 region. Today, the company is Germany’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer and with its subsidiaries, WINGAS and WINGAS TRANSPORT, it is also an important gas supplier on the German and European market.
Wintershall. Shaping the future.
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More information and pictures from the World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires are available on the Internet at www.wintershall.com.
Forward-looking statements and forecasts
This report contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations, assumptions and forecasts by the board of executive directors, as well as on the information currently available to that board. Forward-looking statements are not deemed to be guarantees of the future developments and results set out therein. Future developments and results are in fact dependent on a large number of factors; they contain different risks and imponderables and are based on assumptions that may not be accurate. We do not assume any obligation to update the forward-looking statements made in this document.