Wintershall Calls for Better German Oil, Gas Regulation

German independent energy firm Wintershall called Monday for a better regulatory system for oil and gas in Germany, warning of significant job losses in the sector, as it confirmed it would like to continue to invest in the country's domestic oil and gas markets.

In a statement, Andreas Scheck, head of Wintershall Deutschland, commented:

"For the last four years, we have witnessed an almost complete standstill in domestic natural gas production. Wintershall is prepared to invest. But to do this, we need a reliable and, above all, proportionate regulatory framework."

Wintershall has previously announced that it plans to invest more than EUR 20 million ($22.2 million) in infrastructure at its Barnstorf exploration and production center in Lower Saxony, while also committing to a further intensification of exploration and production of oil and gas around Germany. The firm is currently examining old oil reserves in southern Germany, which it previously abandoned 20 years ago.

However, the company would like to do more and noted in its statement Monday that for almost four years an ongoing discussion about shale gas in Germany has prevented projects from being approved that require the use of hydraulic fracturing even for conventional gas production. This has resulted in natural gas production falling by one-third since 2011.

Scheck pointed out that the legislative and regulatory package currently being debated by German politicians contains excessive demands that are not just incomprehensible in scientific terms but which will cause a disproportionately high burden.

"That is endangering oil and gas production in Germany. Domestic production needs a reliable perspective in order to contribute to securing supplies. We will otherwise become increasingly dependent in future on imports. And this cannot be our objective," he said.

Nothing that only 12 percent of Germany's natural gas requirement is met from domestic sources, compared to 22 percent 15 years ago, Scheck warned: "The project backlog is not only threatening the security of supply but is also now putting jobs at risk, especially in Lower Saxony."

Some 20,000 jobs are at risk, according to Scheck, who pointed out that short-time working and redundancies are already a reality in Germany's oil and gas sector.

The statement from Scheck echoed the concerns of Wintershall Executive Director Martin Bachmann, who warned at a conference in Stavanger last August that Germany's 'Energiewende' (or Energy Transition) dream of pursuing an economy powered by the wind and the sun is in danger of "turning into a nightmare".

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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