The Business Year

Klaus Langemann

UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

Slick Moves

Vice-President Middle East, Wintershall

Bio

Klaus Langemann studied Chemistry, obtaining his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. He joined BASF in 1998, and began his career at Wintershall in 2000. Having occupied a series of more senior positions, he became Vice-President Middle East of Wintershall in 2013.

What do international companies such as Wintershall contribute as partners to government providers? One of Wintershall’s most important strengths is its ability to build and maintain strong strategic partnerships. We […]

What do international companies such as Wintershall contribute as partners to government providers?

One of Wintershall’s most important strengths is its ability to build and maintain strong strategic partnerships. We have been in Libya for more than 60 years, and Libya has gone through several periods of significant turmoil over the last decades. We have been active for almost 25 years in Russia, and have been in Qatar since 1973. It takes a while to foster a solid partnership, but once the trust has been built it has the potential to last many years. Achieving this type of relationship underpins our strategy. I would like to establish a similar partnership with Abu Dhabi, both in the Emirate and internationally. I believe that the current partnership structure in Abu Dhabi allows for more diversification, and I understand that the UAE overall has a political interest in developing closer relations with Germany. Another important aspect is that companies such as ours specialize in niche technologies that can provide additional value to countries like the UAE.

Given the increase in domestic demand for gas here in the UAE, what demand is there on Wintershall?

We know how to efficiently deal with natural gas along the entire value chain. Here in Abu Dhabi, there are fields that are currently untapped because their development poses significant technological challenges due to the high content of hydrogen sulfide—a highly toxic gas—and carbon dioxide. Our value proposition for Abu Dhabi combines our gas story and our expertise in safely dealing with highly sour gas fields. The Shuwaihat field, for example, which is currently being appraised by Wintershall as an operator, contains more than 20% by volume of hydrogen sulfide. Together with our 100% shareholder BASF, we possess highly efficient technology for removing the hydrogen sulfide and converting it into non-toxic products. This know-how stems from the fact that many of the German gas fields developed in the 1970s and 1980s were sour gas fields containing hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, and from which we have reaped considerable experience.

Given local exploration and production challenges, what focus does Wintershall place on R&D?

I would like to focus our R&D research efforts on providing solutions for enhanced oil recovery. For many of the fields in the Gulf, it will be a challenge in the future to maintain plateau production. Therefore, the time is right to investigate the development of special chemical solutions that could enhance recovery rates in oil fields along with our shareholder BASF, which is the world’s largest chemical company.

The region has been characterized by political unrest. What impact is this having on the company’s operations?

Some five years ago we made a very conscious decision to expand our activities in the Gulf in order to balance Wintershall’s global portfolio. Very deliberately, we selected countries like Qatar and the UAE as our focus. These countries are flourishing, and can be considered stable because of their wise and far-sighted leadership. The answer to potential risks in one region is a well-balanced overall portfolio. In fact, our well-diversified activities in Russia, Northwest Europe, North Africa, and South America call out for another region for our portfolio. We believe that our expertise and know-how, especially in the Gulf, could be well matched with the needs and requirements of our host countries.

What is Wintershall’s strategy to develop more partnerships across the region?

My belief is that you have to build and maintain a true, open, and honest partnership with the host country, irrespective of where you are. We have to share knowledge, experience, and revenue for the benefit of all partners. We need to be able to provide a value proposition that clearly points to a win-win situation both for the host country and for us as an international oil company. We have decided to build our regional headquarters for the Gulf in Abu Dhabi, but that does not mean that we plan to do business exclusively with the Emirate. We have also made a gas discovery in Qatar and are working intensively with Qatar Petroleum toward field development.

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