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Digital Rocks: Wintershall utilizing future technology with new laboratoryLower Saxony's Minister for Economic Affairs, Bernd Althusmann, inaugurates technology center

Barnstorf Gebäude Komplex Wintershall
© Wintershall/Christian Burkert

Barnstorf. Wintershall has expanded its technology center at its site in Barnstorf (Rural District of Diepholz) in Lower Saxony. "With the construction of a new central laboratory we're sending a clear signal for the future. This will enable us to use state-of-the-art digital technology to analyze the potential of oil and gas fields even faster, more precisely and more efficiently. This is German know-how for domestic production and our worldwide activities," said Martin Bachmann, Wintershall's Executive Board member responsible for E&P activities in Europe and the Middle East as well as global technology development.

The new technology complex was officially inaugurated by Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony's Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, Transport and Digitalization, in the presence of more than 200 guests and staff.  "By expanding its laboratory into a state-of-the-art technology center, Wintershall is demonstrating its commitment to the Barnstorf site and to strengthening local employment, which makes me particularly delighted. The technology center underlines the huge potential that digitalization offers for our economy – and it is also contributing to ensuring security of supply in regard to the oil and gas production for Lower Saxony and Germany," said Althusmann.

Wintershall has invested a total of 5.8 million euros in the new technology center. The laboratory has a floor area of 2,700 square meters. The centerpiece is a micro-computed tomography (microCT) scanner that supports the 20-strong team in their analyzes. With the new high-tech equipment, Wintershall experts can create high-precision 3D images of cores from natural gas and crude oil reservoirs. An electron microscope allows resolutions down to the nanometer scale – that's one millionth of a millimeter. "This laboratory equipment is unique in Germany," said Bachmann. "This technology gives us a high-resolution insight into the oil and gas fields." The process is called Digital Rocks.

Almost all projects that Wintershall implements worldwide are also supported from Barnstorf. The expertise of the technology center's staff is called upon for a whole host of applications, ranging from exploration wells to the final sealing of the wellbores.

Each year, the Barnstorf Laboratory processes around 2,000 samples from all Wintershall production regions worldwide. With its comprehensive analytics, the lab increases the effectiveness of the exploration and production activities across the entire value chain. The laboratory's order volume has increased by about 30 percent since 2012. In order to meet this growth in the future, Wintershall has expanded the laboratory and developed it into a state-of-the-art technology center.

"The new laboratory underlines the importance of Wintershall's expertise in petrophysics, production analytics and enhanced oil recovery," said Thilo Wieland, Wintershall's Executive Board member responsible for E&P activities in Russia, North Africa and South America. "The analyzes carried out in our expanded technology center will help colleagues in Siberia, Norway or Argentina to make the right decision when developing gas and oil reserves and to work successfully," said Wieland. Recovering oil and gas in compliance with the highest environmental standards and under various geological conditions worldwide is technologically very demanding. This requires a high degree of technological know-how and experience, which Wintershall is further strengthening with the new technology center.

Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the extraction of natural resources for 120 years, and in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 85 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, Russia, North Africa, South America, and increasingly the Middle East region. The company wants to expand its business further with exploration and production, selected partnerships, innovation and technological competence. Wintershall employs about 2.000 staff worldwide from 50 nations and is now Germany’s largest, internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

At the end of September 2018, BASF and LetterOne signed a binding agreement to merge their respective oil and gas companies, Wintershall and DEA (Deutsche Erdöl AG). Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019. Wintershall DEA would become the leading independent oil and gas producer in Europe. BASF and LetterOne are planning an initial public offering (IPO) for Wintershall DEA in the medium term.

Wintershall. Shaping the future.

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