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25 years' crude oil production from Mittelplate

(PresseBox) (Friedrichskoog, ) .
- Environmentally safe oil production sets an example worldwide
- Celebration with high-ranking guests in Friedrichskoog

Since 1987, RWE Dea AG as operator and Wintershall Holding GmbH as a consortium partner have ensured safe oil production from Mittelplate - one of Germany's largest oil reservoirs. The 25-year anniversary of Mittelplate oil production was celebrated today, in the company of about 200 guests, from political, business and administration circles, and the media.

In the course of the official hour of celebration in the Haus des Kurgastes in Friedrichskoog, Minister- President Torsten Albig paid tribute to the 25 years' incident-free oil production in the sensitive Wadden Sea region and emphasised the key economic significance of oil production for Schleswig-Holstein. Albig: "Mittelplate Drilling and Production Island is a key commodity supplier and secures many jobs on the West Coast. In the process, its location in the midst of the Wadden Sea National Park calls for particular sensitivity from all. The 25 years' incident-free production are to serve as an incentive to continue dealing with the unique Wadden Sea habitat with moderation and responsibility." In his welcome address, Thomas Rappuhn, CEO of the operator RWE Dea, emphasized the exemplary function of Mittelplate, a unique, unparalleled project across the globe. "We've delivered proof that it is possible to produce oil in an ecologically sensitive region in an environmentally compatible manner. Mittelplate has meanwhile become a benchmark for environmentally friendly oil production, and we're very pleased to be able to look back on a 25-year success story today."

Martin Bachmann, a member of the Board of Wintershall Holding GmbH, indicated that the high technology and safety standards on Mittelplate were an additional factor: "Domestic crude oil production is more sophisticated compared with locations abroad and often possible only with the use of special technologies. The expertise we gain in Germany is incorporated in our international projects, giving us a competitive edge on a global scale," explained Bachmann. "Mittelplate is a good example of the high environmental standards of German E&P companies. For years now, this has ensured safe and environmentally compatible production of commodities, even in the sensitive Wadden Sea production area. Oil production has been incident-free at all times."

Long tradition of domestic oil production on the West Coast

Mittelplate has meanwhile become Germany's most copious production field by far, as it contains over half of domestic oil reserves. After initial seismic testing to explore the underground had been carried out in 1955, the Büsum Dogger 1 well drilled encountered initial signs of oil as early as 1964. Following the oil price shocks of the 1970s, the significance of domestic energy sources increased, and the search for these was intensified. In August 1980, these efforts were rewarded with the successful Mittelplate 1 well: In a region at a depth from 2,000 to 3,000 metres, oil was proved to exist in Dogger sandstone formations. After the approval process had been carried out, work on building Mittelplate Island began in June 1985. On 12 October 1987, partial oil production was launched, which then led to stable production being reached as of December 1987. Whereas volumes produced in the early years until 1994 were still small, amounting to roughly 250,000 mt per annum, production from the Mittelplate field picked up substantially, reaching over 2 million mt per annum in the period from 2002 to 2007. A total of more than 27 million mt of oil have been produced to date. Annual production currently stands at roughly 1.4 million mt of crude. The objective is to maintain production at this level in years to come. As a result, Mittelplate makes an essential contribution to the manufacturing industry, which uses the oil above all as a raw material for the production of plastics, textiles or medications and, therefore, for many products used in everyday life. Moreover, from thie volume of crude oil extracted from Mittelplate, 560 million litres of heating oil can be produced. This is enough to heat about 255,000 single-family homes per annum. In addition, the annual production of Mittelplate crude provides enough feedstocks for producing 359 million litres of petrol fuels.

Rappuhn emphasized the significance of the interaction between fossil and regenerative energies: "Renewables are a key mainstay, especially in Schleswig-Holstein - and that's a good thing, too. For the next several years, however, the question regarding renewable and conventional energies is not whether to decide in favour of one or the other - we need both." Only in this way will it be possible to guarantee a secure, economical and environmentally compatible energy supply in Germany. Rappuhn, who also referred in his speech to the Company's many years of social commitment to communities, districts and the state of Schleswig-Holstein, also announced that a sum amounting to 20,000 euros would be made available by RWE Dea and Wintershall for regional projects in the fields of environment, education and welfare.

An economic factor steeped in tradition

During the celebrations, Dr Jörn Klimant, chief administrative officer of Dithmarschen, emphasised the economic importance of Mittelplate oil production for the region. "For a very long time now, interests in Dithmarschen have been shaped to a decisive degree by oil exploration and production. Mittelplate Drilling and Production Island is an essential element of the region steeped in tradition. The crude oil era began in Hemmingstedt, near Heide, in 1856. Even today, the network consisting of Mittelplate oil production and the processing industry in Hemmingstedt and in the ChemCoast-Park Brunsbüttel is of immense economic significance for Dithmarschen, especially in view of the jobs associated with these activities," Klimant explained. More than 1,000 jobs located along the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein are directly related to domestic oil production. The state of Schleswig-Holstein benefits from constant production via a production levy that generated around 120 million euros in 2011 alone.

The Mittelplate project established and proved its worth over the years. This is particularly evident on site in Friedrichskoog. Mayor Gerd Dethlefs: "The open and transparent dialogue with the Friedrichskoog municipality and the social commitment has led to a high level of acceptance in the community. We hope that the oil well will be preserved to us beyond the quarter of a century it has already seen."