The Business Year

Helge Christian Beuthan

UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

4.0 Strategy in Place

Managing Director, United Arab Emirates, Wintershall Dea


Helge C. Beuthan joined the E&P industry in 1995, after finishing his master’s in Petroleum Engineering from the Technical University in Clausthal, Germany. He started his career as an operational reservoir engineer working in oil and gas developments for Wintershall’s German operated and non-operated assets. Thereafter he was assigned as Development Coordinator in Libya for almost four years. In 2008 he was promoted to become the corporate Chief reservoir engineer in headquarters. 2011 he was appointed Development Manager in Germany for a three years period from which he was stepping up becoming Vice President for Global Subsurface Evaluation in Kassel until begin of 2019. He is now the SVP and Managing Director for Wintershall DEA, responsible for the UAE.

“Wintershall Dea has a great deal of expertise sitting in its Abu Dhabi office and the headquarters, and our goal is to bring in even more and to integrate it with what our partners have to offer.“

How has Wintershall Dea come to position itself in Abu Dhabi?

Wintershall Dea (Wintershall has merged with Dea as of May) has been in Abu Dhabi for almost ten years, and the decision to enter the market was driven by opportunity. At the time, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) offered us a project to drill at the Shuwaihat field. We were delighted for the opportunity, as it was an ideal moment to showcase our excellence in such a sensitive environment, especially with respect to our expertise in hydrogen sulfide. After successfully completing the drilling and appraisal of our two wells, onshore and offshore, our team was tasked to find opportunities to continue our business in the UAE. We were very grateful when the next step came in the form of the Ghasha Concession, in which Wintershall Dea has now a 10% stake participation. We are confident that this 40-year concession, covering a huge area, will bring a lot of interesting developments in the future.

How will the recent merger of Wintershall and Dea enhance the company’s work in the Middle East?

This year, Wintershall and DEA completed the merger. Now, as Wintershall Dea, we are Europe’s leading independent gas and oil company and are in a position to grow further. In the past, we have partnered in several projects, including our 50-50 partnership in the Mittelplate development — an artificial island in the Waddenzee, an environmentally sensitive area in northern Germany. Building on this excellent working relationship and combined knowledge, our merged company will continue to focus on developing fields in complex areas.

What makes Wintershall Dea a unique player in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas sector?

Wintershall Dea’s differentiators include, but are not limited to, its long experience and technical expertise in the sour gas domain. Having successfully developed sour gas fields in Germany for over 50 years, Wintershall Dea is a strongly geology and geophysics (G&G), and engineering-driven company. We also excel in working from exploration, over large onshore and offshore fields into brownfield developments. For Wintershall Dea, the success of a project comes from strong, collaborative partnerships, and the prospect of developing more of these in the Middle East is what has brought us here.

How does Wintershall Dea maintain its technical edge?

In recent years, Wintershall Dea has come up with many different ways to ensure we develop our capabilities with new technologies and expertise. We maintain skill networks around the world composed of people from diverse operational environments working across different levels, analyzing challenges and formulating solutions. If the solutions are effective, we integrate them into our best practices and guidelines and make them fit-for-purpose to apply in our core regions around the globe. We are dedicated to collaboration and durable work flows. This is what we are pursuing in our Ghasha project now. We are looking at the entire value chain in surface and subsurface. Additionally, we also use our Technology Competence Center in Germany where we are providing solutions for challenges occurring in our operations like in the chemistry arena, petrophysics or other specific required analysis. In addition, another example of our innovation is our establishment of a digital alternative to the classic and time-consuming core analysis, called Digital Rocks. It uses different techniques to generate a digital visualization of a reservoir that goes down to a scale of a single nanometer. Digital Rocks is a unique asset, and we are happy to deploy it for the benefit of our work here in Abu Dhabi. Using this digital model, we can better predict previously difficult properties of the reservoir such as relative permeability or wettability. This will, on the one hand, help to optimize the exploitation of the existing field. On the other hand, it will significantly accelerate the evaluation time and decision-making process for how best to further develop the field. With that we will continue our long-lasting collaboration with ADNOC to improve the understanding of reservoirs. We have also developed certain EOR solutions, in close cooperation with ADNOC and our shareholder BASF for those reservoirs. For example, we have tested surfactants that are capable of withstanding harsh conditions we find here in UAE in order to mobilise additional oil from these types of reservoirs.

How does the Ghasha Concession compare to Wintershall’s previous work in Abu Dhabi?

The Shuwaihat project showcased Wintershall Dea’s experience in sour gas activities and demonstrated that we can deliver on our promises to our partners. In Ghasha, we are now involved as equity players, but we demonstrate the same expertise and cooperation by approaching the project and the partnership holistically. Ghasha involves the development of a series of different complex reservoirs and fields, and the construction of artificial islands. It is not the case that Wintershall Dea’s 10% stake is targeted to a specific 10% of the project or the work involved. We are targeting the entire scope and objectives of the project. We want to set up a business here that enables all, the G&G and engineering, and brings value to the development as a whole. Wintershall Dea has a great deal of expertise sitting in its Abu Dhabi office and the headquarters, and our goal is to bring in even more and to integrate it with what our partners have to offer.

What are some of the biggest challenges you foresee in developing Ghasha?

The reservoirs in the area are complex. We have an idea of the complications we should come across. That requires continuous updates of the reservoir models utilizing best practice expertise and latest technologies. Drilling will be a challenge, along with building the artificial islands and constructing the facilities. The reservoirs contain all types of gasses and liquids. Highest HSEQ standards with no compromises is the basis for all of it. We need to ensure that we can optimize the development for the sake of unlocking the most resources and safeguarding the investment. This is one challenge on the technical level. Another is the high level of equipment and infrastructure procurement required. We have four partners in this project, so we need to maintain a positive sense of project development with a good mutual understanding of what needs to be done and where we should not allow for any shortcuts. Other partners also bring their own ideas, expectations, and expertise to the table. This is one of the largest developments of its kind, and it is great to be a part of it.

What steps can be taken across policymaking and industry to further develop the UAE oil and gas sector?

Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 brings lot of areas for continued development into focus, one of which is technical expertise. There is also a social responsibility component to developing this area further, as it results in the overall value being kept in the country going up. Emiratization is another, related aspect. At Wintershall Dea, we believe that we have a certain responsibility as partners and guests in this country. We have to focus not only on the money we are investing, but also on contributing in the particular domains where we can. One area in which Wintershall Dea is well positioned to contribute is Industry 4.0 technology. We have developed our own 4.0 strategy, and we would like to bring the knowledge and advancements we have attained through it in other markets here to the UAE.



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