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Wintershall Targets Mideast Growth After U.A.E., Qatar Gas Deals

Wintershall AG, the German energy company owned by chemical maker BASF SE, aims to expand in the Middle East and North Africa after winning deals to develop natural gas in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Wintershall, with partner OMV AG of Austria, is drilling at the Shuweihat sour gas and condensate field in Abu Dhabi to appraise it for development, said Klaus Langemann, Wintershall’s vice president for the Middle East. The company hopes its partnership will extend to other countries in the region and with other Abu Dhabi-state-linked partners, he said.

“Our approach is long-term by implementing sustainable business activities with Abu Dhabi both in country and internationally,” Langemann said in an interview at his Abu Dhabi office Nov. 4.

The partners have exclusive rights to decide whether to go ahead with development of the deposit after completing the three-year appraisal period, Langemann said. Wintershall and OMV won the appraisal contract in June 2012 and will drill at least three wells in the bloc, he said.

In Qatar, the company made a gas discovery at the Al Radeef field and will take about a year to complete a field development plan before submitting it for approval to national authorities, he said.

The Qatari discovery was the emirate’s first gas find in 42 years, since uncovering the world’s biggest gas field, the country’s energy minister said in March. Qatar’s North Field, shared with neighboring Iran, was discovered in 1971 and provides the emirate with 900 trillion cubic feet in gas reserves. State-run Qatar Petroleum, Wintershall and Mitsui & Co plan to develop the area called block 4N off the Persian Gulf state’s northern coast.

The Abu Dhabi field contains sour gas, which has high content of lethal hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide must be separated from the gas and can be processed into solid sulfur. BASF is a potential buyer of the sulfur for use in chemical projects, Langemann said.

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