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Wintershall explores domestic natural gas deposits New well in Diepholz district / Up to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas believed to be in deep-lying carbon

Barnstorf. The German crude oil and natural gas producer with operations worldwide, Wintershall, continues to bank on domestic production: the company now plans to investigate a new natural gas deposit near Barnstorf (Diepholz district) more closely with a well. The company expects to find a deposit there with up to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas in carbon layers more than 4,000 meters underground. “The well is very important for the future of domestic production. If the potential recoverable reserves of about 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas are confirmed and suitable for production, we could continue to produce natural gas at our operations in Barnstorf in Lower Saxony for several decades,” Joachim Pünnel, Head of Wintershall’s operations in Germany, explained. These production operations would generate more than half a billion euros in production royalties for the state of Lower Saxony.

Domestic reserves of natural gas still make a key contribution to supply security: 13 percent of domestic demand is covered by production in Germany. Many experts believe that natural gas will gain in importance as a source of energy and as a partner for renewable energies after the energy revolution. “We need domestic production because securing the energy supply begins on our own doorstep,” Pünnel said.

First of all, however, a well has to confirm that the expected reserves in Barnstorf, Lower Saxony, can be recovered technically and commercially. In addition to providing further scientific data on the deposit, this vertical well also aims to deliver this proof. To this end the well “Düste Z10” has been launched after the local authorities and neighbors were informed and involved and approval was granted by the state mining office. The wholly owned BASF subsidiary Wintershall hopes the first findings will be delivered from the middle of this year. If the well is successful, the entire deposit in Diepholz district could be developed from 2014/2015.  

The natural gas deposit Wintershall plans to develop contains so-called ‘tight gas’, which is stored in deep-lying sandstone strata and which can be extracted by hydraulic fracturing. With this technique, fine cracks are generated in the subterranean deposit so that the natural gas can flow more easily to the well. Wintershall has been producing tight gas in Lower Saxony – as well as in the Netherlands, Russia and Argentina – for more than 30 years with the help of this tried-and-tested technology and has extensive experience in the application of this production method. An application to the state mining office to conduct this operation is currently being prepared.

“Hydraulic fracturing is the key to the commercial production of tight gas reserves and is playing an ever increasing role in the development of difficult and complex deposits,” Pünnel explained, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of balancing technological and ecological needs when using fracing technology. Compared to the production of so-called ‘shale gas’, the production of tight gas from sandstone strata, as is conducted in Lower Saxony, requires much fewer fracs and resources, since sandstone is naturally more porous and permeable than shale. Wintershall works with high environmental standards on principle and makes sure it maintains maximum environmental protection and transparency in the form of a voluntary commitment to this effect. For example, the company foregoes the use of drilling and fracing technology in sensitive regions such as water protection areas. 

German deposits strengthen supply security 

Germany is one of the most important regions for Wintershall in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. The company has been producing domestic crude oil since 1930, and natural gas since 1951. Win-tershall is the operator of the only gas production platform in the German North Sea (A6-A) and has a 50 percent share in the largest German crude oil field, Mittelplate, off the North Sea coast, as well as various other operations. 

However, it is not just the consumers that benefit from local production; the states and municipalities benefit as well. “For the communes where hydro-carbons are produced, the oil and gas companies are an important em-ployer and often pay the largest trade tax contributions,” Pünnel explained. The crude oil operations in Barnstorf in Lower Saxony are the center of Wintershall’s exploration and production activities. Here crucial know-how on drilling and production techniques is generated – which is also applied internationally. The crude oil operations produce around one million tons of crude oil and about 900,000 million cubic meters of natural gas per year. Wintershall employs more than 350 staff at its operations in Barnstorf.

Note to editors: More information is available at where there are regular updates on the project’s progress, as well as at local information events. 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 Wintershall Holding AG Press and Public Relations P.O. Box 10 40 20 34112 Kassel, Germany Phone: +49 561 301-3301 Fax: +49 561 301-1321 Wintershall Holding AG Press and Public Relations P.O. Box 10 40 20 34112 Kassel, Germany Phone: +49 561 301-3301 Fax: +49 561 301-1321 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 2,000 staff worldwide from 35 nations and is now Germany’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer. With the subsidiaries it operates together with Russia’s Gazprom, WINGAS and WINGAS TRANSPORT, the BASF subsidiary is also an important gas supplier on the German and European market. 

Contact: Stefan Leunig