Consistency in the crisisApril 21, 2020
Helge Christian Beuthan, managing director for the United Arab Emirates at Wintershall Dea, talks to The Energy Year about how the company is responding globally to the Covid-19 pandemic and how companies can keep their technological edge over competitors during the crisis. Wintershall Dea engages in exploration and production of oil and gas worldwide.
How has Wintershall Dea reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic on a global scale?
Our approach has been similar to how other international oil companies have reacted. The completion of our merger with DEA in May 2019 represents a major milestone and we have been rolling out a lot of initiatives to fully integrate our systems.
The new entity will provide important contributions to the energy security of several countries where we have a presence or operations. There are a lot of new synergies that we are still identifying thanks to this merger. We are very pleased with how our IT department has managed the merger process and the transition to remote work as a result of Covid-19. Our current digital infrastructure setup functions very well and allows for our operations to continue.
Most of our people are working from home. There are a lot of complexities surrounding the issue of shifting to remote work and we have introduced several initiatives to make sure our employees feel comfortable working from home. As a company, we ought to do our best to help our employees keep their stress levels low during this difficult period.
There are other employees who continue to work out there on the fields to make sure operations carry on. Production of gas and oil is still to flow, wells are to be drilled and facilities are to be erected. They are doing an impressive job to keep up our production levels while also observing important new safety measures and maintaining safe distances. That is all good news despite how unclear the situation is as to future oil and gas prices.
Each crisis can be turned into an opportunity. To that end, our merger with DEA came at the right time. We are ready to cope with the challenges born out of the pandemic and are working on a carefully thought-out business continuity plan.
How do you view the approach the UAE government has taken to fast-track the necessary economic relief measures against Covid-19?
I have seen a lot of ups and downs in the global oil and gas industry over the past 30 years. Stakeholders of the global energy sector have always tried to come out of any crisis better and stronger, and we have to set the same objective now. I applaud the government of the UAE for the measures they have taken to tackle the crisis in a timely fashion. The reaction from the public to these measures has been positive.
Some NOCs around the world may react differently when confronting the current environment. On the one hand, we have the Covid-19 situation and all the difficulties stemming from the global pandemic. But, on the other hand, the oil price war between some of the world’s superpowers affects all the industry stakeholders, including the national and international oil companies.
I believe ADNOC has been taking the appropriate measures and the NOC is very well positioned to respond to current market dynamics. They may minimise some investments and defer others, but they will continue to promote responsible actions despite the coronavirus. That is the only way forward. You must review your figures and identify your priorities.
We have already announced a reduction in our planned exploration budget for 2020, but that doesn’t mean our projects are stopping. The industry is expected to shrink because the current situation doesn’t allow for all the necessary supplies to reach ongoing projects. There will be some delays to project executions.
It’s important that operators and contractors find a win-win situation and keep on collaborating so we can all come out of this crisis stronger. At the Ghasha Gas Concession, we have a strong partnership with ADNOC and with the other IOCs, and I am confident about the solutions we can develop together.
How can companies keep their technological edge over their competitors during the current crisis?
We should always aim at breakthroughs in technology and applying the smartest solutions to any operations, not only during a period of crisis. Efficiency spans many different areas in the energy sector. Through our integration process with DEA, we have put in place a digital strategy and we have been deploying new digital solutions in some of our flagship projects, such as those taking place in the Norwegian North Sea and at Germany’s continental shelf area.
We have also formulated dedicated teams to bring value and smarter solutions to the entire value chain in surface and subsurface. Last year, we opened our technology and service centre in Germany, including digital rocks technology, developing smart approaches to core analyses and embracing nanotechnology in reservoir characterisation.
We look forward to bringing some of these new solutions, including our digitalisation knowledge on complex assets, to countries like the UAE. We will continue to show our commitment to the UAE and remain excited by the prospect of the Ghasha concession, where new technology will be a main driver for expansion.