Wintershall in Libya
Wintershall has been active in the exploration and production of crude oil in Libya since 1958. With investments of more than two billion US dollars and more than 150 wells, the BASF subsidiary is one of the largest oil producers there. Wintershall produced up to 100.000 barrels of oil a day in Libya before the revolution broke out in February 2011.
Production from eight onshore fields
Today, Wintershall operates in eight onshore oil fields in the eastern Sirte Basin in concessions C 96 and C 97, located about 1,000 kilometers south-east of the capital Tripoli. Gazprom also has a 49 percent stake in these activities. Our largest producing reservoir in the country is the As-Sarah field near the Jakhira oasis, which has about 4.000 inhabitants. Onshore oil production in Libya is still subject to temporary changes due to external influences on the export infrastructure.
Libya is experiencing very difficult times not only politically but also economically, which are having a considerable impact on our activities. For example, the onshore production has had to be stopped several times since summer 2013. First of all armed groups blocked the export facilities on the coast to enforce their economic and political demands. When this occupation of the loading terminal was ended at the beginning of August 2014, it took almost two months until further local blockades along the export route were also lifted. However, the limited production in the C 96 concession, which was resumed at the end of September 2014, was only able to continue briefly before fighting near the export ports in mid-December 2014 once again forced the NOC to declare Force Majeure. Wintershall’s production was therefore once again discontinued on 21 December 2014.
After the NOC succeeded in diverting the production volumes to the Zuweitina terminal, it was once again possible to temporarily produce limited amounts of oil from the end of February 2015 – until a new blockade blocked this export route at the beginning of May. A small window once again opened from the middle of September to the beginning of November 2015, enabling a limited production of around 35,000 barrels per day from the As-Sarah field and its transportation to Zuweitina. In mid-September 2016, after a further ten months of production stoppage, Wintershall managed to resume the production of limited quantities (around 35,000 barrels/ day) from C96.
Only Libyan employees are currently working there, since the tense security situation in the country meant that Wintershall had to pull out all international employees (including contractors) in mid 2014. Wintershall constantly monitors the situation in Libya. The safety of the Libyan employees, their families and the production facilities has top priority. However, the situation at the production sites in the Libyan Desert is calm. Wintershall’s office in Tripoli is used only to a very limited extent at the moment. Here too, the employees are exclusively Libyan and predominantly working from home.
Wintershall also holds a stake in oil production from the Al-Jurf offshore platform off the north-western coast of the country in block C 137, along with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) and France’s Total. The operating company, Mabruk Oil, which is a joint venture of NOC and Total, has been producing crude oil there for the consortium at a depth of around 90 meters for more than 10 years.
Wintershall is regarded as a technology pioneer in the E&P sector in the North African country: for instance, by processing the associated gas instead of flaring it, the company makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.
Wintershall also disposes 100% of its reservoir water below the surface and is thus the first operator in Libya to fully discontinue disposal via evaporation basins. Wintershall Libya harnesses its technological expertise by using a so called ‘gas lift’ facility to improve oil production from the As-Sarah field. With this technique, the associated gas is compressed and injected back to more than 3.000 meters depth. Special valves guide the gas back into the actual production casing. The effect of rising gas bubbles facilitates oil production, whereby the gas itself is not consumed but recycled subsequently and taken for processing.
Another measure to increase oil recovery in developed fields is water injection. For this purpose, a 142-kilometer-long desert pipeline network was laid in recent years, which conveys the water separated during the oil processing back to the fields, where it is compressed back into the deposits.
About two dozen wells have been drilled for this purpose: half are used for injecting water and half for extracting the additional oil displaced by the water.