RWE-DEA Installs Mittelplate Drilling Rig

On the only oil drilling and production island in German waters, the Mittelplate Consortium (RWE Dea AG as operator and Wintershall AG) is currently in the process of installing a new drilling rig. At a cost of around Euro 50 million, the T-150 rig is one of the biggest and most modern drilling rigs in Europe. It features special equipment to allow it to operate in the ecologically sensitive Wattenmeer tidelands without harming the environment.

As of December this year, the high-tech rig will drive the drill bit for distances of up to 10,000 meters to reach oil-bearing sandstone layers at a depth of 2,000 to 3,000 meters which had not been accessible until now. This is where Germany's highest-yield oil reservoirs are located in the Mittelplate oilfield.

Since the start of production in 1987, 18 out of a possible 44 wells have been sunk from the Mittelplate Drilling and Production Island, and 9.5 million mt of crude have been produced to date. Constant upgrades to the island's production facilities and the expansion of transport capacities have seen the initial annual production volumes of around 200,000 mt of crude grow to about 900,000 mt annually. Tidal and meteorological factors restricting transportation capacity meant that the island's production limit had been reached at that level.

Thanks to its greater drilling radius, the T-150 drilling rig built by the company Bentec GmbH in Bad Bentheim will optimize the development of the Mittelplate oilfield. In conjunction with the pipeline link between Mittelplate Drilling and Production Island and the treatment plant at the Dieksand Land Station, the new, more powerful drilling rig will allow production on the island to be increased to an annual volume of between 1.2 and 1.6 million mt of crude. The expansion project will also benefit the environment: after the initial transition phase, the pipeline will eliminate the need for about 1,000 shipments of crude using the custom-built tug-and-barge units. At the same time, overall production time from the oilfield will be reduced by about ten years.

Current estimates run to recoverable reserves of about 40 million mt of crude from the deposit. As other domestic oil deposits are largely exhausted, the Mittelplate deposit, which amounts to just under 65 per cent of the national crude oil reserves, remains the only German oil field with a future.