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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Wintershall seeks partnerships in Abu Dhabi's sour gas developments

Parent company BASF said to be seeking petrochemicals tie-ups in the emirate 

Uwe Salge, Wintershall Middle East's general manager, said the firm is looking to expand its regional footprint. Courtesy: Wintershall
Uwe Salge, Wintershall Middle East's general manager, said the firm is looking to expand its regional footprint. Courtesy: Wintershall

Wintershall, Germany’s largest crude oil and gas producer, is eyeing partnerships in sour gas development in Abu Dhabi as it looks to increase its Middle East footprint.

The firm has tested two wells in the western sour gas field of Shuwaihat, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Austria's OMV. and was now “looking to play a larger role,” Uwe Salge, Wintershall Middle East’s general manager, told The National in an interview.

While declining to give an estimate on the possible size of reserves in the Shuwaihat concession, located 25 kilometres from Takreer’s Ruwais refinery, Mr Salge said Wintershall “was prepared to invest a lot” in future developments.

“It depends on what share we get in potential developments but we don't see at the moment a specific limit. The whole western region development is a multibillion dollar project and depending on the share we get, we will invest,” he said.

Abu Dhabi has been pushing for development of its sour gas reserves to meet power needs as part of its $109bn spending commitment over the next five years, which also includes overseas downstream and petrochemical acquisitions.

Adnoc earlier this month announced it had advanced development of its offshore ultra-sour gas fields - Hail, Ghasha and Dalma - by awarding front end engineering and design contracts to US firm Bechtel and UAE-based TechnipFMC.

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Read more:

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Known collectively as the North-West Area, the three fields tap into Abu Dhabi’s Arab formation, which is estimated to hold multiple trillions of cubic feet of recoverable gas. The project is expected to produce more than 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day (cfd), about 20 per cent of the UAE’s current demand.

An Adnoc spokesman declined to comment on talks with Wintershall but referenced the company's 2030 strategy announced in November to tap into gas caps and exapnd sour gas production, alongside pursuing strategic international downstream investments.

"[Adnoc's new strategy] offers a diverse range of unique business and investment opportunities to investors and partners, throughout the value chain," the spokesman said.

Mr Salge said that Wintershall was looking to partner “on a larger magnitude than with Shuwaihat,” in both onshore and offshore projects, declining to give further details.

Wintershall’s parent company BASF, the world’s largest chemicals firm, is also said to be looking to expand its business ties with Adnoc, as part of the producer’s recent pivot towards expanding its petrochemicals business.

BASF chairman Kurt Bock is reported to have held talks with Adnoc officials on chemicals collaboration in November during the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.

Adnoc announced preliminary plans in November for a large-scale linear alkyl benzene (LAB) complex at Ruwais to be integrated with Adnoc’s refinery facility. It is also expanding its petrochemical facilities at Ruwais in order to increase its portfolio of chemical products.

Adnoc declined to comment.