Technology made in Germany successful in innovation and research
It is a long route from the detection of oil and gas reserves to their optimal development and safe production. The decisive factor in all phases of the E&P life cycle is technology.
Wintershall continually strives to use the most innovative and effective methods in this regard, since only then will we be able to compete in the oil and gas industry in the long term. Wintershall relies in this regard on a balanced mix: on the one hand we further enhance existing technologies for our own use and thus provide short- to medium-term improvements; on the other hand our research also focuses on our own, long-term innovations – especially in the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) field. The optimisation of technologies and our expertise have enabled us, for example, to achieve pioneering work in the production of sour gas. It is extremely complicated to recover this special natural resource, as it contains both hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide. Anyone wanting to produce sour gas must purify it while maintaining extremely high safety standards. Wintershall is a pioneer in this regard, and has already been recovering sour gas in Germany since 1961.
We are now applying this knowledge in the Middle East, namely in wells in the Shuweihat sour gas field, which we are technically evaluating on behalf of the ADNOC state oil company.
Producing more oil from old fields is getting more and more important in the E&P industry. A huge 70 percent of the increase in proven reserves since 2000 is due to EOR.
Source: International Energy Agency (IEA)
Shuwaihat Abu Dhabi
Wintershall plans to drill up to three exploration wells in the sour gas field Shuwaihat in Abu Dhabi. The first one, „SH-5“, has been successfully completed in 2015.
The Shuwaihat field is situated in the western region of Abu Dhabi, about 25 kilometers west of the industrial town of Ruwais.
The reservoir is located both below the mainland as well as off the coast at a depth of around 4,000 meters. The first well was drilled from land. The other two will be offshore wells.
Read more about Middle East
Enhanced Oil Recovery innovations Emlichheim
Our EOR technologies also enable us to extract oil profitably for many more years from older fields.
For example in Emlichheim on the German-Dutch border, Wintershall is recovering additional oil from the reservoir using water vapour.
With steam flooding, hot steam at a temperature of 300 degrees Celsius is injected under pressure into the reservoir. This makes the dense oil less viscous so that it flows more easily to the well head – and thus enables more oil to be recovered.
The Wintershall oil field “Emlichheim” has been producing crude oil at a constantly high level for 67 years.
The Schizophyllan molecule Bockstedt
However, we are also developing new EOR innovations such as the Schizophyllan biopolymer, which we are jointly researching together with BASF. The biological thickening agent is produced by a fungus. Depending on the reservoir, this biopolymer could enable up to 10 percent more oil to be produced – a huge step. The product is currently being tested in the Bockstedt oil field.
25,000The biopolymer Schizophyllan is made up of a sequence of about 25,000 sugar components.
0,03 percent0,03 percent schizophyllan is contained in the injection solution which is pumped into the Bockstedt oil field. This small amount is enough to thicken the water to 25 times the viscosity.
Wintershall & BASF: A strong team
We have a decisive advantage over our competitors in the race for technical innovations: Wintershall is a 100 percent subsidiary of BASF, the largest chemical company in the world. The first-class research work, the expertise in developing products and BASF’s immense resources therefore decisively influence the research and development at Wintershall. Together we are researching polymers such as Schizophyllan and other EOR products that enable more oil to be recovered from existing reservoirs, are working on improved proppants and more environmentally friendly additives for hydraulic fracturing, and are developing new methods for recovering heavy oil. We are therefore creating synergies from which both companies benefit.
Incidentally, we create the prerequisites for our technological expertise in our home country, Germany, where Wintershall has been successfully searching for and producing crude oil and natural gas for more than 80 years.
Because of the complex geological and legal conditions here, continuous innovations and extremely high safety and environmental standards are essential.
Those are the trump cards with which we impress worldwide and establish international energy partnerships.