HAMBURG, Germany – RWE Dea has submitted applications to drill four exploration wells in the Wadden Sea tidelands of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, northern Germany. This involves submission of detailed application documentation in both federal states.
The company believes further oil volumes could be developed via Mittelplatte, Germany’s largest oil field, which produces mainly via an offshore installation (the Mittelplatte drilling and production “island”).
RWE Dea is targeting potential reserves of 23 MMcm (812 MMcf) of oil, and also plans to gather information for use at a later date, should the partners commit to develop these deposits.
The exploration wells will be drilled vertically for a temporary period. The company has agreed with the state governments of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein that potential oil production later on would be performed only from outside the National Park via the existing offshore facility.
In recognition of the Wadden Sea tidelands’ status as a World Heritage site, three temporary enclaves have been defined for the exploration wells, all excluded from the World Heritage site.
The sequence and time window for drilling was determined according to ecological considerations, in order to minimize disturbance on the tidal flats. Once the work is completed, the enclaves can be added to the World Heritage site.
RWE Dea says the purpose of the wells is not to extract crude oil, but solely to investigate the exact shape and location of the subsurface rock formations, and whether oil exists or can be produced.
The program will be performed using a small drilling rig mounted on a pontoon substructure, anchored securely on the tidal flats in order to withstand stormy conditions.
After each well has been completed, the rig will be towed to the next drilling site. All the wells will be plugged and made secure, and all the equipment removed from the tidal flats.
Three of the four planned drilling sites are in the Wadden Sea tidelands of Schleswig-Holstein, in the Heide/Büsum license. The fourth site is in the Wadden Sea tidelands of Lower Saxony in the Cuxhaven exploration license area, around 12 km (7.5 mi) off the coast of Lower Saxony.
If oil is discovered, RWE Dea will extract it wither via extended-reach deviated wells drilled from outside the National Park, or via existing facilities on the Mittelplate island.
The company’s partner for the license area Heide/Büsum is Wintershall (50%); and for the license area, Cuxhaven, Wintershall (25%), and GDF Suez (25%).