"Our production activities from the Mittelplate oilfield contribute toward reducing Germany‘s dependency on imports and thus reinforcing the domestic security of supply", says Dr. Georg Schöning, Chairman of the Board of Management of RWE Dea AG. The initial production volumes of around 200,000 mt of crude per annum have increased more than tenfold. The annual production volume meanwhile amounts to more than 2 million mt of crude.
Oil production in the sensitive Wattenmeer tidelands ecosystem represents a particular challenge. "In the last 20 years, we have proved that nature conservation and economic interests are capable of being harmonized," Schöning continued. "Our dedicated and highly qualified employees and the most sophisticated drilling, production and transport concept that is constantly adjusted to state-of-the-art technology have set a global industry benchmark." A concept that has proved its worth at all times: all activities on the Mittelplate drilling and production island have been incident-free.
The hallmarks of the Mittelplate project are technical innovations and its unique safety concept across the globe. In the past 20 years, capital spending has reached a total of around 670 million euros. Substantial proportions of the sum invested are accounted for by the high standards of industrial safety and environmental protection. The transportation of crude oil is guaranteed by a pipeline completed in 2005 at a cost of 100 million euros. A further 50 million euros flowed into the construction of the new T-150 drilling rig; its increased power requirements are to be covered by a new cable link in future.
Operating a drilling and production island that is continually subjected to salt water, the tides and adverse weather conditions calls for constant maintenance and repair work. For instance, the outer fortifications of the island - known as scour protection and consisting of stones and cement - are continually repaired. Many innovations on the island were specially developed to meet the requirements of this ecologically sensitive production area. As a result, oil production from the Mittelplate field has become exemplary on an international scale for oil production in harmony with environmental standards.
The dynamic development of geophysical processes and drilling technology in recent years has opened up new horizons for efficient drilling and production methods, making it possible for oil production to be continually optimized. In addition to the 20 million mt of crude that have already been produced, at today's level there still are some 30 to 35 millions mt in recoverable reserves. Since the remaining domestic reservoirs are largely depleted and exhausted, not only is Mittelplate the German oilfield with the highest production volume; with just under 65 percent of national crude oil reserves, it has simultaneously been one of the few proven deposits with a viable future.
Further oil resources presumed
Refined evaluations of seismic tests meanwhile indicate that additional oil resources are available. The question as to whether and how much oil is below the Wattenmeer tidelands is to be resolved by drilling exploratory wells. The nature conservation-related studies and technical planning activities for these wells of the North Sea coast off Dithmarschen are in full swing. The application for the exceptional permit required has already been submitted to the National Parks Authority in Tönning. Schöning: "We know how sensitive the Wattenmeer tidal flats are. This is why we have conducted detailed studies of potential impacts on flora and fauna. Within the scope of preparing and processing the application, we rely on close coordination with the competent authorities, the National Parks Board, nature conservation and environmental associations and the municipalities. After all, the success story Mittelplate has been due to the spirit of open communication and impartial discussions. We now intend to continue these with care and a sense of commitment."
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