Mittelplate Pipeline Results in Higher Oil Production
The pipeline link to the Mittelplate Drilling and Production Island is already paying off at this point. The Mittelplate Consortium (RWE Dea as operator and Wintershall) reports that 2,700 mt of crude from Germany's biggest and most productive oil field are currently being pumped through the new stainless-steel pipeline to the mainland every day, without any problems and regardless of the prevailing weather. Ever since production commenced and until the pipeline was built, the valuable commodity had to be brought to shore using double-hull barges, an operation that was therefore dependent on weather and tidal conditions.
The continuous flow of crude since the official commissioning of the new pipeline in the fall of 2005 has had a positive impact compared with the previous mode of transportation with its attendant lost days. For example, some 124 journeys by transport barges would have had to be cancelled due to inclement weather during the recent winter months. This would have meant a loss in production of about 110,000 mt of crude. With the new solution, this volume could now be transported to the processing plant on the mainland despite bad weather.
And nature stands to benefit as well: the new pipeline eliminates the need for about 2,000 barge journeys across the Wattenmeer tidal flats each year. The short-term intervention required during the construction of the pipeline did not lead to any long-term impact on the ecology of the tidelands, as has been documented by the results of the monitoring programs which are now available. External experts had been monitoring the project throughout the construction phase in order to observe its impact on seals and birds as well as on the fauna living in the seabed. The results show that the stipulated environmental objectives have been achieved. The effects observed on birds and seals as well as on microorganisms were considerably lower than the assumptions on which the environmental impact study had been based. This shows that engineering measures of this kind can be carried out even in an ecologically highly sensitive nature reserve without any lasting impact on the protection targets.