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Wintershall Holding GmbH
Founded 1894
Headquarters Kassel, Germany
Key people
Dr. Rainer Seele
2.4 billion euros (2011)
Number of employees
~2,200 (2012)
Parent BASF

Wintershall Holding GmbH is the largest crude oil and natural gas producer in Germany. The company is based in Kassel, Germany. Wintershall is a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF, based in Ludwigshafen. The name Wintershall is derived from the surname of the enterprise co-founder Carl Julius Winter and the Old High German word for salt (hall) together.

The company made a profit of 2.4 billion euros in 2011.[1] In 2012, the company had 2164 employees worldwide.[2] The Chairman of the board of Executive Directors is Dr. Rainer Seele.[3]


The drilling company Wintershall was established in 1894 by the industrialist Heinrich Grimberg and the drilling contractor Carl Julius Winter. Originally the company worked on the mining of potash. In 1930, the accidental leaking of oil into one of the potash pits added oil production to the list of company activities. Because of increased oil demand, Wintershall concentrated on oil production.

Directly after World War II, the US Senate held some hearings on July 2, 1945, concerning the German economy and fiscal operations during the conflict. Under "Chemicals and Munitions", the testimony said: "Wintershall Holding GmbH: Address: Kassel; Capital: RM 150,000,000; Business: The largest German potash concern and the largest factor in the German Potash Syndicate (Deutsche Kalisyndikat), after I.G. Farben, the largest German chemical concern. The owners of Wintershall are the August Rosterg family, Günther Quandt, and others, who hold their interest through the holding company, Gewerke Wintershall, the principal stockholder in Wintershall Holding GmbH. Interest: The Dresdner Bank is connected with Wintershall through interlocking directors in the persons of Karl Rasche and Heinrich Schmidt. The latter is the head of the Wintershall board of directors."[4]

At the end of World War II, the libraries of the German Army's Military Geology Unit (Wehrgeologenstellen) and the German Patent Office (Reichspatentamt) were removed from Berlin and secretly stored in the deep Wintershall potash mine in Heringen. There they were discovered by the US Third Army in March 1945, and removed to the US. The German Patent Library was later restored to Germany, but the military geology materials of maps, reports and books, often stolen from other countries during the invasions, were retained by the US as Nazi materiel.[5] Most of these maps and books remain in the US Geological Survey Library today, with an obscure United States Army Corps of Engineers stamp on each that reads "Heringen Collection".[6]

During the 1950s Wintershall started natural gas production. In 1969 Wintershall Holding GmbH became a subsidiary of BASF. The potash mining was sold to Kali & Salz AG. During the 1990s natural gas production by Wintershall Holding GmbH expanded. In the autumn of 1990 Wintershall started cooperation with the Russian gas company, Gazprom, and concluded a long-term agreement on the marketing of Russian natural gas in Germany. In 1993, WINGAS GmbH, the joint venture of Wintershall (50% plus one share) and Gazprom (50% minus one share) was established. In 2005, Wintershall, Gazprom and E.ON Ruhrgas agreed to build the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. In 2006, Wintershall got a stake in Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field. In 2008, Wintershall successfully acquired Norwegian RevusEnergy ASA and has since become one of the biggest operators in the country with a successful exploration record over recent years. In 2012, Wintershall made a surprising oil discovery in the Dutch North Sea, an area lacking in oil previously.

Fields of activity[edit]

The activities of Wintershall cover two ranges: exploration and production of oil and natural gas, and the natural gas trade, which includes also transport and storage.

In exploration and production the emphasis of the activities lies in Western Europe, North Africa, South America and Russia.


  1. ^ Wintershall-Gruppe: balance to 31 December 2005 (pdf, 300kb)
  2. ^ hr-online: property of contacts to Siberia pay themselves out , conditions: August 2006
  3. ^ WINTERSHALL: executive committee/supervisory board, conditions: August 2006
  4. ^ United States, and Bernard M. Baruch.1945. Elimination of German Resources for War. Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Military Affairs, United States Senate, Seventy-Ninth Congress, First Session, Pursuant to S. Res. 107 (78th Congress) and S. Res. 146 (79th Congress) Authorizing a Study of War Mobilization Problem : Testimony of Hon. Bernard M. Baruch Before the Full Military Affairs Committee on Control and Occupation of Germany, Relations with Russia, Cartels and Nationalized Industries against Free Enterprise. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., July 1945. Page 800.
  5. ^ Willig, Dierk. 2009. "Die Odyssee des Wehrgeologenarchivs als Teil der Heringen Collection: Versuch einer Rekonstruktion der Vorgänge von März 1945 bis heute." Euskirchen: Amt für Geoinformationswesen der Bundeswehr. 31 pages.
  6. ^ Hadden, Robert Lee. 2008. "The Heringen Collection of the US Geological Survey Library of Reston, Virginia." Earth Sciences History, Volume 27, Number 2. Pages 242-265. ISSN: 0736-623X.

External links[edit]