Wintershall Dea and Gazprom: 30 years of groundbreaking partnership

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Wintershall Dea
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Wintershall Dea

Cutting-edge solutions for the development of complex geological formations, a robust and cost-efficient gas transportation network in Germany, reliable energy supplies to Europe and a fully-fledged partnership for innovation – three decades of partnership between Wintershall Dea and Gazprom have positively transformed the gas industry in Europe and in Russia. 

On 26 September 1990, two industry experts – the German chemicals corporation BASF SE with its oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall and the Russian natural gas consortium Zarubezhgaz/Gazprom – signed an agreement on long-term cooperation. The deal gave a historic impulse to German-Russian economic cooperation and laid the foundations for a unique partnership in the energy sector. 

“The recognition of new business opportunities and the enthusiasm to contribute to the development of German-Russian cooperation brought our companies together 30 years ago. Our joint dedication to excellence and the passion for opening up new horizons was the main driving force behind the successful growth of this partnership. With Gazprom and Wintershall Dea, an alliance of two first-class energy industry specialists is setting best-practice standards in the sector,” says Mario Mehren, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Wintershall Dea.

Pioneers in developing complex geological formations

While the first decade of the partnership focused on joint natural gas trading activities as well as construction of natural gas pipelines and storage facilities in Germany, the last two decades were marked by raising the bar on the technological know-how and the pioneering spirit in conquering the extremes in joint exploration and production projects in Western Siberia.

The development of Achimov deposits at the Urengoyskoye gas field near Novy Urengoy in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region is a testament to that. “When Achimgaz was founded in 2003, it was a historic moment for the German-Russian gas partnership. Wintershall became the first German company to produce natural gas directly in Western Siberia. Together with our Russian partners we defied the odds and went ahead with the successful development of the complex Achimov formation,” says Thilo Wieland, Member of the Board of Wintershall Dea responsible for Russia. Because of the depth of about 4000 meters in which the deposits lie, extreme natural conditions on site and high reservoir pressures and temperatures, these had been previously considered technologically impossible and commercially unfeasible to develop – until Wintershall and Gazprom took up that challenge. Achimgaz, a 50:50 joint venture of Gazprom Dobycha Urengoy and Wintershall Dea, successfully started production from Area 1A of the Achimov formation of the Urengoyskoye gas field in 2008. This year the joint venture reached an important production milestone of 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas produced since project commissioning. 

Drawing on its extensive experience and profound technical know-how gained during the development of Area 1A, in 2014 Wintershall and Gazprom founded Achim Development, their youngest joint venture, to develop Area 4A/5A of the Achimov formation of the Urengoyskoye field.

A further example of joining forces to successfully master a geological challenge lies further south in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region, where Severneftegazprom, a joint venture between Gazprom, Wintershall Dea and OMV, has established itself as an industry pioneer in the development of hard-to-recover reserves of the complex Turonian formation at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field. Founded in 1998, Severneftegazprom began natural gas production from the Cenomanian layer in 2007 and achieved plateau production in 2009. Having developed a unique technological approach, the company began operating the first test wells in the Turonian strata in 2011. By October 2019, the first billion cubic metres of Turonian gas had been extracted, and in May 2020, the joint venture celebrated an impressive landmark – a total of 300 billion cubic metres of natural gas produced!

Joint commitment to innovative solutions

The success of these projects would not be possible without the excellent relationship between the representatives of two companies.

The Scientific and Technical Cooperation programme has fostered the exchange of experience and know-how between Wintershall Dea and Gazprom for almost 30 years now. Within the framework of the programme, experts from both companies develop innovative solutions for strategically important technical aspects and create new projects of mutual benefit. 

Learning from each other and creating synergies - this guiding principle is also implemented in the training programme for Gazprom managers that Wintershall Dea has been running for over 25 years. Since the programme was implemented, more than 6,000 specialists and managers have taken part in over 400 advanced trainings concerned with professional education and human resources development.

In October 2019, Wintershall Dea and Gazprom Nedra signed a Cooperation Agreement, which was further expanded in April 2020. With this step, the companies have joined forces in promoting digital transformation and the deployment of innovative technologies in natural gas exploration and production in by means of, among others, comprehensive production modelling and optimisation of field exploration.

“With all these programmes, our Russian partners and we are looking into the future together. We are working actively and diligently to ensure that the best know-how in the areas of digitisation and decarbonised energy solutions is available to shape a modern and competitive German-Russian energy partnership,” says Torsten Murin, Managing Director of Wintershall Dea Russia.

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