Wintershall Says Shale Debate Still Blocks Conventional Gas

The ongoing heated discussion about shale gas continues to block conventional natural gas production in Germany, says BASFs oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall. The company adds that as a result, investments worth €1 billion are on hold and jobs in the industry are at risk.

According to Wintershall, natural gas production in Germany fell by further 6% in 2014. The company blames the decline squarely on the more than three year-long shale gas controversy that has prevented projects requiring the use of fracking even for conventional gas production.

"More than a third of the conventional natural gas produced in Germany has been safely recovered in an environmentally friendly manner with the use of hydraulic fracturing," Andreas Scheck, head of Wintershall's activities in Germany, told the Annual Energy Industry Conference of the business daily Handelsblatt in Berlin.

Scheck said the strengthening of Germany's supply security depends not just on the possible production of shale gas reserves in the future but above all on established, conventional production.

Today, the executive added, only 11% of Germany's natural gas requirement is met by domestic production, while 15 years ago it was 22%.The project backlog is not only threatening domestic supply security but is also meanwhile putting jobs at risk, especially in Lower Saxony," where 95% of Germany's natural gas is produced, Scheck warned.

Wintershall quotes a survey by the Association of German Crude Oil and Natural Gas Producers (WEG) as saying that with the many investments now frozen, some 20,000 jobs in the industry are at risk. To safeguard supply, the company says "reliable regulations" are required for hydraulic fracturing, which for decades has been safely and successfully deployed in Germany with so-called tight gas.

Once again beating the drum for fracking trials in Germany, Scheck remarked that, "theoretically, the use of possible shale gas reserves could maintain current production levels in Germany for at least another 100 years."

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