UpdateGerman BASF to use fracking for tight gas, not shale gas

11 July 2012 20:51  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates throughout with comments from Wintershall CEO Rainer Seele)

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF’s Wintershall oil and gas unit will use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at a tight gas reserve in Lower Saxony state but it does not plan to use fracking at German shale gas reserves, the company said on Wednesday.

Wintershall said earlier on Wednesday that it is preparing to apply for permits to use fracking at a tight gas deposit at Barnstorf, northwest of Hanover.

CEO Rainer Seele said that fracking technologies used to drill for tight gas should not be confused with fracking for shale gas.

In fact, Wintershall has been producing tight gas in Lower Saxony for more than 30 years with the help of fracking - as well as in the Netherlands, Russia and Argentina, Seele said.

The company makes sure that it does not use fracking in water protection regions, and so far there has been no incident of water contamination because of fracking in Germany, Seele added.

As for potential shale gas production in Germany, Wintershall is pursuing a “sober, down-to-earth strategy based on realities”, Seele said.

Shale gas production requires much more water and a much higher use of chemical additives than tight gas, Seele said.

In addition, Germany’s main shale gas regions are densely populated, compared with US shale gas regions, Seele said.

“Not everything that is possible is realistic or even desirable,” he added.

For the time being, Wintershall will only conduct geological research at two shale gas regions in North-Rhine Westphalia state, but there will be no deep-drilling and no fracking, Seele said.

“This is important research to have a basis for a reasonable discussion whether future production of shale gas can make commercial and ecological sense,” he said.

Germany’s recoverable shale gas reserves have been estimated at between 700bn-2,300bn cubic metres.

Last week, BASF executive board member Harald Schwager said that BASF is considering shale gas opportunities in Germany and Argentina in its search for gas and greater energy efficiency.  

Currently, Germany’s domestic natural gas production covers about 15% of the country’s overall requirements, with Lower Saxony accounting for about 95% of that production, according to Wintershall.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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