Wintershall Wins Exploration Licenses in Danish North Sea


Wintershall AG is expanding its activities in the North Sea: after acquiring licenses in the Norwegian and British areas of the North Sea last year, Germany's largest oil and gas producer has now been granted allocations to explore natural gas fields 4/06, 5/06, and 6/06 – around 1,600 square kilometers in total – by the Danish government. Wintershall is working together with the Hydro subsidiary SAGA Petroleum Danmark AS, EWE AG, and Nordsofonden (an investment company of the Danish government) in the Danish section of the North Sea, not far from German territorial waters. With a 35 percent share, the wholly owned BASF subsidiary will operate all three exploration blocks.

"We plan to start seismic investigations this year still," says Wintershall Board Member, Dr. Ties Tiessen, who is responsible for Production. The first exploratory wells will be drilled from 2008. "These licenses increases our portfolio in this region of the north sea, which has a well developed in-frastructure," adds Tiessen. Currently, a well is being drilled in a neighboring Danish concession. The operator here is the energy utility DONG, which is fully owned by the Danish government. However, Wintershall has a 42 percent majority shareholding. Other consortium partners are Petro-Canada and Denerco Oil. If the well in block 11/98 should discover gas, the field will be connected to the pipeline system of Wintershall's A6-A platform, which is around seven kilometers away. A6-A, located in the socalled Entenschnabel or duck's beak, is currently the only German offshore gas production platform.

At more than 50 percent a large part of Europe's gas supplies come from the North Sea countries of Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the UK. Because of the country's closeness to the European natural gas market, the acquisition of Danish licenses fits Wintershall's longterm "Gas for Europe Strategy". The Kasselbased company is already one of the largest gas producers in the Netherlands, where it has increased annual gas production fivefold to two billion cubic meters since 2000. Wintershall operates 24 platforms here in the southern part of the North Sea.

Wintershall will substantially expand its activities in the North Sea and plans to invest several hundred million euros over the coming years. "Because of our expertise as offshore operators we at Wintershall feel almost obliged to develop the many unused natural gas fields in the North Sea," says Tiessen. Last year the company acquired seven new exploration blocks offshore from the UK and signed a farmin contract to participate in an offshore license in Norway with Norway's second largest oil producer, Hydro. Wintershall also obtained 20 percent shares in two further licenses from the Norwegian government within the scope of a tendering round.

Wintershall AG, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF AG in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 75 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions, where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, North Africa, South America, as well as Russia and the Caspian Sea region. Today, the company is Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer.