Germany's Wintershall is stepping up its activities in the southern North Sea, the company has announced. In addition to an extensive drilling campaign in the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark, the company intends to take its natural gas and crude oil discoveries into the production phase swiftly, the firm said.
“We believe in the ongoing potential of the southern North Sea and are hereby making our contribution to securing Europe’s energy supply by efficiently developing the assets we have close to home,” explains Robert Frimpong, Managing Director of Wintershall Noordzee, during the Flame international energy conference in Amsterdam. More than half of the natural gas consumed in the European Union, and about a quarter of the EU’s crude oil consumption, comes from the North Sea and the countries bordering it.
Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF, has been active in the North Sea since 1965 and in the last five years it has been awarded exploration and production rights in around 120 licenses in the basin. At the same time, the company has established itself as an operator of producing fields in Norway and the southern North Sea.
Wintershall operates 24 offshore platforms in Dutch, German and UK waters of the North Sea. This year, L6-B, a platform with a minimal design to allow installation in a restricted military zone, will begin natural gas production in the Dutch North Sea.
Natural gas production will continue to be one of the company’s main areas of activity in the Netherlands and in the southern North Sea – and will be complemented by oil production as well.
A key component of these activities is the discovery F17a, which has now been named “Rembrandt” after the Dutch painter. With 30 MMboe, the Rembrandt reservoir is one of the largest oil discoveries in the southern North Sea; as the operator Wintershall has a share of 30%. Further upside potential is currently being appraised. At the same time, Wintershall is paving the way for the development and has submitted an application for a production license to the Dutch authorities.
Wintershall is also making progress with the development of the Ravn oil field in the Danish North Sea, of which Wintershall holds the operatorship (share: 63.6%). The development and operating plan, which has been approved by the Danish Energy Agency, envisages an unmanned production platform and a subsea pipeline that would transport the crude oil to the A6-A platform, 18km away in the German North Sea, where it will be fed into the existing transport system.
“Ravn represents a milestone for our company. It is the first field for us in Denmark that we are progressing into the production phase as the operator,” Frimpong says.
Frimpong believes that the southern North Sea will remain an attractive region for internationally active oil and gas companies in future. But in view of the current low oil prices, companies have to focus consistently on innovative and cost-efficient solutions, he says. “Wintershall has a key advantage here: by being present in the whole region and across national borders, we realize synergies that are of critical benefit to our complex developments. We will continue to harness this advantage and invest in the future,” Frimpong says.
Wintershall is planning eight wells in 2015 in the Netherlands alone, three of them as operator. They will be accompanied by another four operated wells in the British and Danish sectors of the North Sea.