Natural gas production launched in British North Sea

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17.10.2011

Wintershall, Germany’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer, launched its first gas production as operator in the British North Sea last Sunday with the Wingate platform. The platform in the British offshore concession 44/24b will initially produce 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas. A second production well is expected to increase the production rate to three million cubic meters of natural gas as soon as next year. That will be enough gas to supply around 400,000 households.

“Our most recent investments of more than 50 million euros in the Wingate project once again demonstrate that we still see considerable potential in the North Sea,” Martin Bachmann, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall and responsible for Exploration and Production, explained. The company has been active in the North Sea for almost 50 years. Wintershall Noordzee is the operator of Wingate (49.5%); the consortium partners are Gazprom Germania (20%), Exxon Mobil (15.5%) and Gas-Union (15%).

Remote-controlled platform

The natural gas extracted from a depth of 3,700 meters will be transported via pipeline to the GDF SUEZ platform D15-A, situated 20 kilometers away in the Dutch North Sea. From this facility it will flow over a distance of about 300 kilometers to the Dutch mainland near Uithuizen. Bachmann continued, “The production of gas from the Wingate platform is controlled via the Wintershall remote control room in Den Helder in the Netherlands.”

To ensure the efficiency of its operations, Wintershall Noordzee operates one of the most modern centers for remote-controlled offshore platforms – The Center for Remote Controlled Operations (RCO). With the launch of Wingate, Wintershall now controls 20 platforms overall from this RCO center in Den Helder, 18 of them on the Dutch Continental Shelf, one platform in the German sector of the North Sea, and now the Wingate platform in the British Southern North Sea. This type of remote operation has allowed a reduction in the number of transport and supply flights normally needed to the platforms by a third. The center plays also a key role in the successful commercial production of smaller reserves in the southern section of the North Sea. Rijswijk, near The Hague, is home to the corporate-wide Competence Center for Offshore Technology building on its shallow-water expertise over the last almost 50 years.

Wintershall was allocated the concession block 44/24b as part of the 22nd UK offshore licensing round in 2004. The natural gas field was discovered in 2008. Up to 100 specialists and craftsmen worked on the construction of the Wingate platform in the dockyards in Dordrecht and in Ridderkerk. Construction lasted 10 months. The platform is fully self-sufficient: a minipower turbine station generates electricity from the gas directly extracted from the field. The Wingate platform is about 1,200 square meters in size; the platform deck weighs around 950 tons and rests on a structure known as a ‘jacket’, which is anchored into the sea bed. It rises 45 meters from the seabed and the structure weighs around 850 tons. Overall Wingate measures 70 meters from top to bottom.


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