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ONS 2016: Wintershall – ‘Maria proves we weren’t crazy’

Oil news
Industry news

Wintershall’s success with its Maria project proves the company wasn’t crazy to take it on, according to the firm’s executive director of exploration and production in Europe.

Martin Bachmann was speaking as this year’s ONS when he said: “At the time people were saying, ‘Are you completely mad? What the hell is happening with you in these times?’

“We have not regretted it.

“It’s good project. It is a very solid project. And it is well on its way. It will eventually develop in the order of 180 million barrels of oil equivalent.

“I think what makes it so robust is it’s quite a creative scheme connecting the field to a number of existing platforms. It isn’t just one. It is a number of platforms, and that makes it complicated, but it has taken a lot of innovation and creativity to make this possible.”

The Maria discovery, which is located in the southern Norwegian Sea, will be tied-back using 94km of pipeline to the Kristin, Heidrun and Åsgard B production platforms – a move which has shaved the costs in half versus using a standalone facility, according to Bachmann.

He added: “And of course that has additional benefits for society, because these installations themselves have a longer lifetime going off into the future.

“I think it is an ideal way of showing how challenging conditions force you to be creative, and are actually an opportunity to do better things than if you were just going down the standard track.”

Elsewhere, the firm is moving ahead with the development of the Aasta Hansteen field, which it has a 24% stake in. Statoil owns the operator share with 51%.

“This is pushing the supply end beyond the Polar Circle and that’s where we’re not only talking about flying the flag for the market. We are actually going and investing in it, and that’s why we joined this project,” Bachamann said.

First production is due in 2018.

“We are not just sitting here and watching it happen,” Bachmann said.

“In fact, we have become quite active in exploration around the Aasta Hansteen area, because we actually do believe that is one of the next areas for gas supply in Europe and we’re going to make our contribution.”

Wintershall also expects to sign-off its concept for Skarjell by the end of the year.
“We are basically going down a very similar track as we did with Maria,” Bachmann said.

“We are turning it over once more. We are sharpening our pencil and seeing if there are additional improvements, because I think it’s very important in these times that the speed at which we do these projects maybe has to take second place to improving the project.

“We know the challenges of the North Sea concerning offshore Europe extremely well and we’re not afraid to take these challenges on, because we do believe there is potential. It is potential we can realise if we actually manage to make the projects robust.”

He added: “I think the one thing you can say about the oil price is volatility is going to be with us for some time, and companies need to be able to cope with it and I think that’s what we’re demonstrating here in Norway.”

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