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

Wintershall Holding GmbH is Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer. 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 Mario Mehren.[3]

In September 2015, Wintershall's parent group BASF traded 100% of the company's gas distribution and storage business and 50% of its gas exploration arm, Wintershall Noordzee, for 25%-plus-one-share of Gazprom's Achimov deposits in Western Siberia's Urengoy oil, gas and condensate field in . BASF had in 2013 signed a memorandum of understanding on the assets swap but the deal ran into trouble because of US and EU sanctions against Russia and the state-controlled Russian gas producer and exporter over the government in Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and policy on separatist violence in eastern Ukraine. Under a binding contract signed on September 4 2015 by Gazprom chair Alexey Miller and his opposite number at BASF, Kurt Bock at the Russian government's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the German group would invest in and develop Blocks 4A and 5A of the Achimov gas and gas condensate deposits in the Urengoy gas field with Gazprom.[4][5] Blocks 4A and 5A of the Achimov deposits held estimated reserves of about 274 billion cu m of gas and 74 million t of condensate, Gazprom said.[6]

About six months earlier, Wintershall's chief executive, Rainer Seeleive, had told Düsseldorf's Handelsblatt business daily: "The crisis between the West and Russia escalated at the end of the year and Brussels was constantly issuing warnings about being too dependent on Russian gas. Gazprom started getting doubts about whether it was really wanted in Europe as an investor. But of course we were unable to take a major opportunity to expand our cooperation with Gazprom even further...We sat down together and agreed that the underlying conditions – especially the political conditions – had worsened to the extent that the asset swap no longer made sense...It will take a long time to normalize relations [between Germany and Russia] again...The key to resolving the crisis lies in Ukraine. The first task is to bring peace to the country...Then we have to make sure economic stability takes hold again quickly. We must do this together. Only then will we be able to gradually rebuild the trust between Russia, the Ukraine and the West again."[7]


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 ( the Deutsche Kalisyndikat), after I.G. Farben, the largest German chemical concern. The owners of Wintershall were the August Rosterg family, Günther Quandt, and others, who held their interest through the holding company, Gewerke Wintershall, the principal stockholder in Wintershall Holding GmbH. Interest: The Dresdner Bank was connected with Wintershall through interlocking directors in the persons of Karl Rasche and banker Heinrich Schmidt. The latter is the head of the Wintershall board of directors."[8]

At the end of World War II, the libraries of the German Army's Military Geology Unit ) and the German Patent Office 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.[9] Most of those maps and books are held in the US Geological Survey Library.

During the 1950s Wintershall started natural gas production. In 1969, Wintershall Holding GmbH became a subsidiary of BASF, which sold the potash mining business 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, the company's Wintershall Noordzee subsidiary unexpectedly struck oil in the Dutch North Sea, previously an area lacking in oil.

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. ^ Nord Stream Expansion Agreed, Wintershall Swapped to Gazprom (Part One), Vladimir Socor, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, Washington, 10 September 2015.Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  5. ^ BASF and Gazprom agree to complete asset swap, Press release, Wintershall corporate website, Kassel, 11 September 2015.Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ Gazprom and Wintershall sign Agreement on closing asset swap deal, Press release, Gazprom corporate website, Moscow, 4 September 2015.Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  7. ^ "We manage our projects perfectly", Handelsblatt, Düsseldorf, 12 March 2015 (in English).Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.

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