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Cross-border gas production

Wintershall Noordzee (a 50:50 Joint Venture of Wintershall Dea and Gazprom EP International) has successfully started gas production from its operated cross-border development Sillimanite. Discovered in June 2015, the unitised gas field stretches across the UK and the Dutch Continental Shelves.

“The safe delivery and start-up of production of this exceptional cross-border development project is a showcase of how working together on all levels brings about great results”, says Robert Frimpong, Managing Director of Wintershall Noordzee. “We are proud of the results achieved by the teams and look forward to the numerous further opportunities the area around Sillimanite has to offer.”

Wintershall Noordzee, active for over 50 years as a full life-cycle operator in exploration, development, production and decommissioning, has re-used the topside of its decommissioned P14-A production platform for the second time. Starting its life as the topside of P14-A in 1993, it was re-used to become the topside of E18-A in 2009. It has now started its third life on the D12-B platform, including technical enhancements to minimise emissions to the environment. Wherever possible, Wintershall Noordzee seizes the opportunity to re-use parts of its production platforms. It is a sustainable as well as a cost-effective approach. This practice dates back to 1988 when the topside of K13-D was re-used as the topside of L8-H.

The production of gas from the Sillimanite gas field is in line with the statement made by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs on the small fields policy. In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives dated 31 May 2018, Minister Wiebes wrote, “Gas extraction in our own country, when this is safe, is better than importing. This is partly due to the fact that the Netherlands will still need natural gas for some decades to come, although in declining quantity. In that case, own production is better for the climate, better for employment and the economy, better for the preservation of knowledge of the deep subsurface and of the present gas infrastructure, and also better geopolitically.”

Wintershall Noordzee contracted the Maersk Resolve drilling rig to work on the development of the Sillimanite field which is planned to have a minimum of two production wells. The first of the two production wells, D12-B1, was drilled within the planned timeframe and budget. The produced gas will be transported through the newly laid 12km long pipeline connecting the D12-B platform to the existing D15-A production platform (operated by Neptune), both located in Dutch waters. From there, the gas will be transported through the NGT (Noordgastransport) gas transportation system to shore.

The unitised Sillimanite gas field stretches across the UK and the Dutch continental shelves in licence block 44/19a on the UK side and blocks D12a and D12b on the Dutch side. A Treaty between the UK and Dutch governments entered into force in July 2018. Beside Wintershall Noordzee as operator (39.7%), unit-partners in the Sillimanite development are Energie Beheer Nederland (25%), Gazprom International UK (19.9%), Neptune Energy Netherlands (2.3%), Neptune Netherlands Participation (1.6%), Neptune E&P UK (3.6%), ONE-Dyas (3.1%) and ONE-Dyas UK (4.8%).