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|Founded||13 February 1894|
|Mario Mehren (2015-Present)|
|Revenue||€4.094 billion (2018)|
|€1.733 billion (2018)|
|€829 million (2018)|
Number of employees
Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, is Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF. The company is active in oil and gas exploration and production. Wintershall focuses on Europe, North Africa, South America as well as Russia and the Middle East region.
Wintershall employs more than 2,000 people worldwide. In the 2015 financial year the company produced around 153 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of oil and gas. Sales were over 12.99 billion euros.
The early years
Wintershall was founded on 13 February 1894 by mining entrepreneur Carl Julius Winter. It was originally set up as a drilling company to produce potash in Kamen. The company name (pronounced: Winters·hall) is also derived from its founder's name: it is made up of the surname of Carl Julius Winter and the Old High German word for salt (‘Hall’, see halite, halurgy).
Ground was first broken on 23 April 1900 to drill the Grimberg shaft at Widdershausen, and the first Wintershall potash works were built in Heringen. Wintershall drilled other shafts in the Werra potash fields, and built or acquired other works in the region. From 1895 to 1913, seven potash shafts were drilled in Hessen and 21 in Thuringia in the Werra valley.
In 1930, crude oil production was added to Wintershall's line of work when a leakage of crude oil into one of the potash shafts in Volkenroda turned out to be a promising prospect for Wintershall. The increasing motorization as well as the subsequent gathering of munitions for the war meant that crude oil was very much in demand. Hence, from then on Wintershall concentrated on developing crude oil resources.
In the 1930s Wintershall acquired Naphthaindustrie und Tankanlagen AG (NITAG) and renamed it NITAG Deutsche Treibstoffe AG in 1938. That made NITAG, alongside Mihag, Wiesöl / Wintershall Mineralöl GmbH the main sales subsidiary for the sale of petroleum products. During World War II forced labor was used, many of the 1360 prisoners came from the Buchenwald concentration camp.
In the post-war era, during the expropriations in the Soviet occupation zone, Wintershall lost a large oil refinery in Lützkendorf, some of its NITAG fuelling stations as well as the potash shafts and works in Thuringia.
Wintershall was one of the pioneers of natural gas development and production in the Federal Republic of Germany. It made its first natural gas discovery in 1951 in northern Germany. After that the company began extracting natural gas professionally. From 1924 until well into the post-war period, the fate of Wintershall was essentially determined by August Rosterg and Günther Quandt, to whom the majority of the shares collectively belonged.
After the securities adjustment in 1949/1950, in 1952 Wintershall and DEA acquired the majority shareholding of Deutsche Gasolin AG in connection with the construction of the Emsland crude oil refinery. In 1956 the Wintershall sales subsidiary NITAG was merged with Gasolin AG to form Deutsche Gasolin Nitag AG.
Takeover by BASF
In 1969 Wintershall was taken over by the BASF Group as it was an important supplier of raw materials and thus enabled BASF to secure the resources it needed. The potash mining activities were integrated into Kali und Salz AG in 1970. Since then the company has focused on its oil and gas activities.
In 1971, the Wintershall subsidiary Gasolin merged with its sister company Aral.
Since 1987 Wintershall and DEA have been operators and partners of the Mittelplate oil field, which is situated at the periphery of the Wadden Sea national park in Schleswig-Holstein. By 2016, 20 million tons of crude oil overall had been produced on this relatively small drilling island, which measures just 70 by 95 meters. The Mittelplate offshore field is one of the cornerstones of German crude oil production.
1990 to present
From the 1990s Wintershall became increasingly involved in natural gas trading. In autumn 1990, an agreement on the marketing of Russian natural gas in Germany was signed with Gazprom. The so-called “Agreement on Cooperation in the Gas Industry”, which paved the way for cooperation between companies in the Russian and German energy industry just before German reunification, was an absolute first in the natural gas sector. Then, in 1993, Wingas was founded as a joint venture between Wintershall and Gazprom. With the asset swap agreed by BASF and Gazprom in 2015, Wingas, and thus Wintershall's entire natural gas trading activities, were transferred fully to Russian ownership.
The pipeline network, which is over 2,400 kilometers long, is now operated by the subsidiary Gascade (formerly Wingas Transport). It connects the gas reserves in Siberia and the natural gas resources in the North Sea with sales markets in the western regions of Europe. Wintershall's participation in Nord Stream was the company's response to rising demand for natural gas and falling production in Europe. Together with Gazprom and E.ON Ruhrgas, 55 billion cubic meters of transport capacities were generated in 2011 with the Baltic Sea pipeline. Wintershall has a 15.5 percent share in the pipeline.
As well as the Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, Mario Mehren, the Board members are Martin Bachmann, (Exploration and Production in Europe and the Middle East), Thilo Wieland (Exploration and Production in Russia, North Africa and South America) and Dr. Ties Tiessen (Finance, Sales and Commercial).
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is Dr. Hans-Ulrich Engel (Member of Board of Directors, BASF SE). His deputies are Marc Ehrhardt (President of Finance, BASF SE) and Michael Winkler (trade union secretary of IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie).
For Wintershall, Germany is a center of innovation for new technologies. Its domestic production activities are based on research and development activities in the following areas: improving the discovery rate of oil and gas reservoirs, developing technologies for reservoirs with difficult development and production conditions and increasing the yield from reservoirs. Its main production sites include Emlichheim, Landau and Aitingen.
Over 50% of the natural gas required in the European Union is produced in the North Sea and the countries bordering it. Norway plays a prominent role in this regard and has evolved into a core region for Wintershall in recent years. With over 60 licenses – in more than half of which it is operator – today Wintershall is one of the largest license holders in Norway. Together with its partners, Wintershall submitted a plan for development and operation (PDO) as operator for the first time to the Norwegian ministry for crude oil and energy, for its Maria field, which lies in the Norwegian Sea.
In the Netherlands, Wintershall is one of the largest gas producers and in the UK operator of the Wingate gas production platform, which was commissioned in October 2011.
Wintershall has been active in Argentina for 38 years and holds shares in 15 onshore and offshore fields overall. Its production sites include Aguada Federal, Bandurria Norte (here Wintershall is 100% operator) and Vega Pleyade.
Wintershall has been active in Libya since 1958 and recently operated eight oil fields there with a production of 100,000 barrels per day. Production was interrupted in 2011 because of the civil war and the subsequent turmoil. Currently only Libyan staff are deployed there, since Wintershall had to pull out all its international staff in the middle of 2014.
Wintershall completed an exploration well for the development of a sour gas and condensate field in Abu Dhabi. Another exploration well was launched in 2016 in cooperation with the state-owned oil company of Abu Dhabi, ADNOC, and the Austrian oil and gas company OMV. In April 2016, Wintershall signed a declaration of intent with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on future cooperation.
For 25 years, Wintershall has focused on a cooperation model with its Russian partner Gazprom. Thanks to this cooperation Wintershall has been producing crude oil directly in Russia since 2006 (official start in 2008) – as the first German producer to do so. At the moment Wintershall is active in several joint ventures for the exploration end production of hydrocarbons in western Siberia and southern Russia.
In addition to deploying well-known and proven technologies, Wintershall is increasingly harnessing more unusual and innovative approaches. Research projects in the technological field are mostly conducted in cooperation with the parent company BASF.
In the field of exploration, Wintershall focuses on geological studies, geophysical surveys as well as seismic measurements. Reservoir modelling is used to make forecasts for production from each field and is then the basis of all investment decisions. There are four categories of production, which require different technologies: onshore crude oil and natural gas production, offshore crude oil and natural gas production, hydraulic fracturing and sour gas production. As well as primary and secondary methods of oil production which achieve a yield of 20-40%, Wintershall also makes use of so-called Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), which can raise this to 30-60%. Wintershall applies steam flooding as one of its EOR methods. In addition, Wintershall is currently developing novel and innovative methods that could substantially improve the recovery rate of a reservoir.
Company key indicators
Sales at Wintershall were over 12.99 billion euros in the 2015 financial year, a decline on the previous year's figure of approx. 15.14 billion euros. Company profits were 1.05 billion euros (2014: 1.46 billion euros).
The company was able to increase oil and gas production in 2015 on the previous year by 17 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) to 153 million boe. Approximately 75% of this was from natural gas production.
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