Core regions across the world

A subsidiary of BASF - We create chemistry
06.12.2013

Oil and gas from Lower Saxony: Keep utilising the home advantage in future!Lower Saxony’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Olaf Lies: “Wintershall is an important economic driver” / Bachmann: We need crude oil and natural gas. The energy turnaround will also make no difference. / Official celebration with 400 guests from politics and business

Barnstorf/Hanover. The home advantage is being used in Lower Saxony: domestic crude oil and natural gas have been produced between the Ems and Elbe rivers for decades. Wintershall has already been producing the valuable raw materials at its Barnstorf site (Rural District of Diepholz) for the last 60 years. Even the very first historic well sunk in the district in 1953 is still in operation: the horse-head pump there still bobs up and down 5000 times a day. “Oil and gas are still important economic factors in Lower Saxony,” says Joachim Pünnel, head of Wintershall Deutschland. 600 million euros are paid to the federal state every year in royalties for the domestic oil and gas. By way of comparison: that’s three times the amount that Lower Saxony receives in dividends from its 20 percent share in Volkswagen. “Whether that remains the case largely depends on whether politicians continue to back domestic crude oil and natural gas production,” said Pünnel during an official celebration to mark the launch of Wintershall’s activities in Barnstorf 60 years ago.

Germany is in worldwide competition for the most important energy resources, emphasised Martin Bachmann, the Wintershall Executive Board Member responsible for Exploration and Production: “Germany needs energy resources. We will remain dependent on oil and gas for a long time. The energy turnaround will also make no difference. There will be no medicine, no wind turbines and no iPads without oil. And without natural gas, the lights will be switched off before we get to our green future,” warned Bachmann.

Germany still has its own relevant resources that can make an important contribution to the energy provision. 95 percent of the German natural gas lies between the Ems, Elbe and the North Sea. The domestic production currently meets almost twelve percent of Germany’s natural gas requirement. “Theoretically we can maintain this level for at least 100 more years,” says Bachmann. However, Lower Saxony is practically experiencing the opposite: 2012 alone saw a drop in gas production of about ten percent because approvals were not forthcoming – not even for recovering conventional deposits that have been successfully mined for decades.

Forsa survey: Germany wants to utilise its home advantage
As Bachmann explained, this flies in the face of the general consensus – not just among experts but also among the general public – that Germany also needs domestic production in future. This is demonstrated by the latest survey from the forsa opinion research institute: according to this, 83 percent of Germans are convinced that fossil fuels will also be required in future. The latest survey also indicates that around two-thirds back a combination of domestic production and imports from abroad. And more than half of the Germans believe it is important or even very important that oil and gas continue to be produced here. The citizens also have a clear idea about how the more than 600 million euros of royalties for the crude oil and natural gas should be spent in Lower Saxony: the money should be principally used for investing in education and research.

“Our activities in Germany make a considerable contribution to not only the energy provision but also the development of new technologies,” explained Pünnel. To date, Wintershall has recovered about 40 million tonnes of domestic crude oil – the same amount that Saudi Arabia has supplied Germany in 20 years. Added to this are the roughly 70 billion cubic metres of natural gas. With its research projects and the training of young people at its Barnstorf site, Wintershall is ensuring that “this remains the case in future.”

Economic Affairs Minister: Further improve recovery processes
“Wintershall Deutschland is not only one of the pioneers of the German crude oil and natural gas industry, the company is also an important economic driver at the different centres in Lower Saxony and provides high quality jobs,” praised Lower Saxony’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Olaf Lies, in his ceremonial address to more than 400 guests from politics and business.

“To ensure that Lower Saxony also remains the crude oil and natural gas state in Germany, it’s important that the production processes continue to be improved,” said Lies: “This challenge must be solved not only in economic terms but, above all, in an environmentally friendly manner with the broadest acceptance.”

Barnstorf forms the centre of domestic production for Wintershall, Germany’s largest internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer. This is where decisive know-how is developed on drilling and recovery technologies – including for international deployment. This is because, as Bachmann explains, the geologically complex reserves have transformed Wintershall’s domestic production into an innovation centre for new technologies. Wintershall is working on this aspect and this is another reason “why we need domestic production.” He added that our own research expertise, the demanding geological and legal requirements in Germany as well as the globally recognised daily adoption of high environmental standards provide the basis for continual innovations.

Technology made in Germany as an international admission ticket
One admission ticket for important major projects in Russia and Argentina is the production of tight gas in Germany. This also applies to the production from sour gas fields – a technology developed in Germany that has given Wintershall access, for example, to a gas production project in Abu Dhabi. Just as important are technologies that enable the oil production in existing fields to be increased. Together with its parent company, BASF, Wintershall is currently conducting field trials in Bockstedt near Barnstorf where it is researching how to increase the crude oil yield using the    Schizophyllan biopolymer, which is derived from a mushroom. And this is in an environmentally compatible manner, since the biopolymer is fully biodegradable.

Barnstorf – the centre for domestic production for 60 years
Wintershall began producing crude oil and natural gas in the Barnstorf region sixty years ago. The first oil well in Barnstorf’s neighbouring village, Aldorf, has been producing crude oil since 1953. On 6 April 1954, the company laid the foundation stone in Rechterner Strasse in Barnstorf for the current administration building and operation site, which extends across 175,000 square metres. On 22 November 1954, the “Erdölwerke Niedersachsen” oil plant was founded, which today operates as part of Wintershall Deutschland.

Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active 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, North Africa, South America, as well as Russia and the Caspian Sea region. In addition, these operations are complemented by the company’s growing exploration activities in the Arabian Gulf. Today, the company employs more than 2,500 staff worldwide from 40 nations and is now Germany’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer.

Wintershall. Shaping the future.

Contact: Michael Sasse