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12.02.2015

Hot steam offers even more potential Wintershall extends steam flooding technique in Emlichheim to another crude oil formation / Up to 500,000 additional tons of crude oil possible

Emlichheim. Wintershall is now applying a tried-and-tested production technique to another crude oil formation at its Emlichheim reservoir: to recover more oil, the BASF subsidiary is feeding hot steam into the Gildehaus sandstone. The steam-injected sandstone formation at a depth of 680 to 880 meters is from the marine Early Cretaceous age. It belongs to the Hauterivian on the geological timescale.

“We have been producing crude oil in Emlichheim at a constantly high level for 65 years. We are continuing to invest so that we can maintain this, and to ensure we can keep producing from this reservoir beyond 2040,” Andreas Scheck, director of Wintershall Deutschland, said at a New Year reception in Emlichheim.

The crude oil in the Emlichheim reservoir is viscous and thus difficult to extract. With the steam flooding technique, Wintershall injects steam at a temperature of 300 degrees into the reservoir. This makes the crude oil runnier and easier to produce. The BASF subsidiary, which employs around 100 staff in Emlichheim, has been using this technique successfully for 30 years already in the Bentheim sandstone. The formation in the Gildehaus sandstone, where the method is now also being applied, lies above the Bentheim sandstone.

For the steam flooding of the Hauterivian rock formation which has now begun, Wintershall is injecting 60 tons of steam into the reservoir every day to decrease the high viscosity of the oil and allow it to flow.

“The first indications are positive but there’s still a long way to go,” Scheck underlined.

Up to 500,000 additional tons of crude oil could be produced at Emlichheim by applying steam flooding to the Gildehaus sandstone. A major advantage for the Wintershall engineers is the infrastructure already in place, for the existing wells can be used for production and steam injection. 

The Emlichheim oil field: one of the largest and oldest in Germany

The Emlichheim oil field in the county of Bentheim is one of the largest and oldest oil fields in Germany. The first well, “Emlichheim 1”, went into production in 1944. Production then reached a peak at the beginning of the 1950’s and was at risk of declining considerably thereafter. But with the development of innovative production technologies and the use of steam flooding since 1981, it has been possible to extend the life of the field significantly. Wintershall has increased the recovery rate of the reservoir to as much as 50 percent. Generally only about 30 to 35 percent of the oil in a field is extracted. 

“We have produced more than 10 million tons of oil in Emlichheim in the last 70 years. That confirms that domestic production not only makes an important contribution to the energy supply in Germany, but also facilitates the development of technological know-how. And that motivates us to make the most of this home advantage in future too,” Scheck says.

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 80 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 some 2,500 staff worldwide from 40 nations and is now Germany’s largest,internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

Wintershall.Shaping the future.

Contact: Mark Krümpel