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Wintershall and GDF SUEZ extend collaboration Exchange of concession share in North Sea

Kassel/Lingen, 12 May, 2009. Wintershall and GDF SUEZ are extending their collaboration by signing an agreement on the exchange of interests in drilling fields in the German North Sea. GDF SUEZ E&P Deutschland GmbH will receive 40% of the H&L sections. These lie 80 km offshore, northwest of the East Friesian island of Borkum. The 100% owned subsidiary of BASF will in exchange receive 25% of the Cuxhaven concession which directly adjoins the Schleswig-Holstein Mittelplate oil field.

“The exchange of interests heralds an intensification of the many years of close collaboration between our companies, which has extended to numerous projects in northern Germany,” says Dr Ties Tiessen, Director of Wintershall Holding AG. “We are very pleased that our joint participation can now extend to the area of offshore exploration. We are certain that these projects are the ideal step forward.”

Didier Holleaux, Senior Vice President Exploration & Production of GDF SUEZ, sees the collaboration as “a major step for GDF SUEZ in developing additional hydrocarbon potentials in the German North Sea, which we look forward to taking with Wintershall. Here we have cooperation between two partners with enormous experience and state-of-the-art know-how – so I am very confident that the projects in the H&L sections and the Cuxhaven concession will be a mutual success.”

The Cuxhaven concession borders the Mittelplate field, the largest German oil reserves. Further reserves are anticipated in the Cuxhaven concession, just as in the Mittelplate field. The partners will be able to expand and reinterpret current seismic explorations. With a 50% share, the site manager RWE Dea is also a participant in the Cuxhaven concession, in addition to Wintershall and GDF SUEZ (25% share each). 

Wintershall will remain the operator at the H&L sections. Until now, the company has only operated the natural gas sections. Exploratory drilling project L1-2 is planned by the end of 2009 in the area of some 2572 square kilometres. Further work will depend on the results of this exploration. Wintershall and GDF SUEZ both have 40% participation in the consortium, with the British company Hansa Hydrocarbons Ltd holding the remaining 20%.

Wintershall and GDF SUEZ can look back on a long and successful collaborative partnership. GDF SUEZ E&P Deutschland GmbH in Lingen (Ems) has undertaken more than 10 projects with Wintershall in Northern Germany. A focus has been upon the development of tertiary recovery methods. One joint project is the “Tight Gas” field development in Leer in Lower Saxony, started in 2007. It was continued in 2008 and a new well drilled. At the end of the year, it had achieved its target horizon and should go into production in 2009. Tight Gas deposits are characterised by the fact that natural gas is stored in very dense, relatively impermeable rock. The so-called Multiple-Frac method is used to break up the rock in the deposits in multiple subterranean locations, thereby facilitating the flow of gas into the drill hole.

The French GDF SUEZ Group belongs to the world’s largest energy companies. As an affiliate, GDF SUEZ E&P DEUTSCHLAND GMBH is involved in the exploration, recovery and marketing of natural gas and crude oil. Its activities are centred on Germany, especially the North German basin, the Rhine valley and the foothills of the Alps. With its innovative techniques, the Lingen (Ems) company is responsible for some 10% of the natural gas and 15% of the crude oil supplied to Germany.

Wintershall Holding GmbH
, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the extraction of natural resources for 120 years, and in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 80 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, Russia, North Africa, South America, and increasingly the Middle East region. The company wants to expand its business further with exploration and production, selected partnerships, innovation and technological competence. Wintershall employs some 2,500 staff worldwide from 40 nations and is now Germany’s largest,internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

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Contact: Stefan Leunig