By Nigel Ash
Tripoli, 15 October 2013:
German oil firm Wintershall, whose production from . . .[restrict]its two onshore concessions is currently halted by the eastern oil terminals blockade, also saw a near ten percent year-on-year drop in output in the second quarter of this year, because of planned field maintenance.
Production stood at 73,000 b/d compared with 80,000 b/d for the same period in 2012.
Some might consider Wintershall unlucky to choose to cut production voluntarily to allow maintenance, while at present, its output from blocks C96 and C97 has had to be halted because of the shutdown of the export terminals. Production at the offshore 45,000 b/d Al Jurf field, where the firm has a ten percent stake in operating company Mabruk Oil, has been unaffected.
A Wintershall spokesman told the Libya Herald today: “ It is currently unclear when the blockade of the export terminals will be lifted and how quickly production in the Libyan Desert can be resumed.” The spokesman went on to say that the firm was using the interruption to carry out more maintenance work and tests. “We are in close contact with the NOC and other companies. However, Wintershall does not have any influence on the solution to the current situation”.
The German company, a subsidiary of chemicals giant BASF, has been trying to bump its production back up to the pre-Revolution level of 100,000 b/d. Part of the trouble has been security concerns which, as with GECOL’s power generation contracts, have affected the readiness of service companies to send their specialists to Libya.
The Wintershall spokesman admitted this was a problem. “At the moment the return of some of the necessary expertise and services to Libya is being delayed because of security concerns. We would like to reach the pre-crisis production level of 100,000 b/d again as quickly as possible. It is not currently possible to say when this will happen.”
The spokesman also noted that there continued to be limits to the export infrastructure, despite the availability of a new replacement pipeline – owing to protests and strikes, most of them the loading terminals.
Back in March, the prospects had seemed very different. Production was then rising faster than expected and Wintershall shared the government’s optimism that the country might be edging towards 2 million b/d by sometime next year.
Wintershall had been the first foreign oil company to return to Libya after the revolution, during which it had paid all its staff and done its best to look after their welfare. Moreover because NOC did not have the available funds to overcome a bottleneck caused by degraded pipeline infrastructure, the German firm financed and project-managed the construction of a new 52 kilometre pipeline, linking its concession in block C96 with the Amal field. From there oil is transported to the export terminals at Ras Lanouf. This still remains the largest civil engineering project yet undertaken in the Libya since the revolution.
Working with NOC subsidiary AGOCO (Arabian Gulf Oil Company), the project was completed in record time and within budget. The original projected cost was €31.5 million, but sources close to the project say it came in at €27 million. [/restrict]