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Shuwaihat field Exploration & Evaluation

Abu Dhabi is one of the most important hubs for oil and gas activities in the Gulf region. Germany’s largest internationally active oil and gas producer Wintershall is expanding its commitment in the United Arab Emirates. As in other global activities, Wintershall is relying on the successful combination of modern exploration techniques and state-of-the-art production methods to improve the yield of complex reservoirs.

In this spirit, Wintershall, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Austria’s OMV signed an agreement in June 2012 to appraise the Shuwaihat sour gas and condensate field. As the operator Wintershall is responsible for the technical appraisal and development of the field.


The Shuwaihat field is situated in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, about 25 kilometers west of the industrial town of Ruwais. A successful evaluation and subsequent production could make Shuwaihat one of the most important natural gas and condensate fields in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi.

It would also help to meet the increasing demand for hydrocarbons in the United Arab Emirates and contribute to the country’s long-term export capabilities.

The reservoir evaluation includes up to three field appraisal wells and a 3D seismic survey. In summer of 2015 the first onshore well (SH-5) has been successfully completed and the evaluation of the results have encouraged the partners to proceed with the appraisal of the field.  
The two other planned wells (SH-6 and SH-7) are drilled offshore. The wells are drilled to a depth of about 5,000 meters.

Facts & Figures

Premiere at the Sea First Wintershall well off the coast of Abu Dhabi successfully completed

An important step for Wintershall: The company has successfully completed its first offshore well in Abu Dhabi .The SH-6 has been drilled about five kilometers off the coast of the Shuwaihat Island in the Arabian Gulf. During six months of drilling and testing operations the team in Abu Dhabi collected all relevant data. “I’m pleased that the SH-6 operations were successful – both from a safety point of view as operationally. We were able to complete our first offshore well in Abu Dhabi ahead of our best planned schedule and way below budget”, explains Piet van der Hem, General Manager of Shuwaihat.

SH-6 is the second well to appraise the Shuwaihat sour gas field, and is expected to demonstrate the productivity of the reservoir. The results will be critical for the further development of the field. The team is now analyzing the results of the SH-6 and will discuss the following steps with its partners ADNOC and OMV afterwards.

2017 Wintershall completes its
first offshore well SH-6
2015 The first onshore well SH-5
has been completed
5,000 metres is the
reservoir depth
250 kilometres lie between the
Shuwaihat field and the City of
Abu Dhabi the Shuwaihat field
2012 Wintershall takes over the technical
appraisal of the Shuwaihat field

Safety Our top priority

Shuwaihat requires maximum attentiveness, because the sour gas being produced here contains 23 percent hydrogen sulfide and 7 percent carbon dioxide. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is highly poisonous in concentrations of as little as 0.05 percent. Accordingly, areas have been blocked off around the drilling rig, and a standby vessel was always close at hand.

The security precautions taken for the up to 120 people working on the drilling rig have been extensive. Fixed and portable gas detection equipment and alarm systems have been added, and the air supply and respiratory protection systems meet the highest standards.

The technical requirements were equally challenging. The Nahr Umr and Laffan formations through which the drill bits had to pass are often unstable. “That’s why we use synthetic drilling mud to stabilize the borehole“, says Marinus Elenbaas, the manager in charge of drilling operations. Experience from the onshore well has also shown that drilling vertically through these formations is the best option.


Mugharraq Port

Wintershall has also been trying out new solutions in terms of infrastructure for this project. To supply the drilling rig, the company has expanded the small local port of Mugharraq, which is located near the Shuwaihat field. It was necessary to construct concrete containment to support a facility for processing drilling mud that had been installed. Mugharraq was used not only to ship materials such as pipes and drilling fluid quickly and cost-effectively, but also to transport the crew members to the rig by boat.


Marinus Elenbaas
Drilling Manager, Middle East

“Limiting the use of helicopters and an extra supply vessel saved a lot of money”, says Elenbaas. “Many other companies have considered this, but we have actually done it. The port of Mugharraq is ideally located to support offshore activities in the entire Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi”, adds Shuwaihat General Manager Piet van der Hem. “Because of having this land base we were less dependent on other companies. It also reduced our risk of downtime due to logistics.”

Partnership About our partner ADNOC

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)is one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies and is fully owned by the government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The company was founded in 1971 and is active in all areas of the oil and gas industry. It has 16 specialized subsidiaries and joint ventures operating in both upstream and downstream sectors.

The ADNOC Group is active in the United Arab Emirates and across the whole world and produces around 3 million barrels of oil and 9.8 billion cubic feet of raw gas a day. While carrying out all its business activities ADNOC is committed to sustainable development, ensuring a harmonious balance between people’s needs and Earth’s resources, adhering to the best international practices and supporting all programs and initiatives of environment protection while its track record in HSE sets the standard not only at the regional Gulf level but at the international level as well. 

Learn more about our partner in the Middle East

The Shuwaihat Project

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