Since the start of the Ukraine war, special attention has also been paid to the development of domestic energy raw materials, which have so far been sourced mainly from Russia. Against this background, the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG) has published its annual report "Petroleum and Natural Gas in the Federal Republic of Germany" in this. "For the time being, crude oil and natural gas remain indispensable as a bridging technology for energy supply over a limited period of time," LBEG President Carsten Mühlenmeier commented on the publication. After all, he said, these energy sources account for half of the energy consumed in Germany. He also pointed out that the manufacture of wind turbines and the production of hydrogen, for example, also depend on fossil fuels.
The results in detail: According to the current report, the total area of permit fields for the exploration of hydrocarbons decreased by another 10,500 km² to 25,000 km² in the past year compared to 2020. Only one new permit was issued in Baden-Württemberg. At the same time, permit fields or parts of permit fields in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were cancelled.
Surface geophysical measurements to explore the subsurface for oil and gas were not conducted in any case in 2021, according to the report. "After the corona-related slump in drilling activity in 2020, it did not recover substantially in 2021," the LBEG experts write. Moreover, no new exploration wells took place in 2021. Of three exploration wells from previous years that had not yet received a result, one was completed last year with a final result, but it was not a find. The number of active field development wells halved to three from six in the previous year, according to the LBEG report. One well, which had not yet reached its final depth, was dormant for almost the entire year. Another seven wells from previous years were still waiting for a result. In 2021, meanwhile, six wells were completed with successful results, LBEG said. Of those, three wells were found, and three auxiliary wells reached their targets, it said.
Natural gas production last year remained almost stable, according to the report. Compared to the previous year, the annual production volume increased by 0.8 percent and amounted to 5.7 billion m³ in field quality. By contrast, crude oil production declined again. Compared with the previous year, output fell by 4.7 percent to 1.8 million tons - including condensate.
Total proven and probable natural gas reserves continued to decline, "albeit only slightly," according to the report. Compared to last year, reserves decreased by 1 billion cubic meters, or 2.3 percent, and totaled 42.2 billion cubic meters of field-quality reserves. Most of the production withdrawn in 2021 was thus offset by new reserves, LBEG notes. Meanwhile, the total of proven and probable oil reserves decreased more significantly by 4.5 million tons (16.4 percent) compared to the previous year and amounted to 22.9 million tons. Thus, the reserves have lost much more than the production volume withdrawn in 2021, compare the experts.
Finally, the technically usable working gas volume of underground natural gas storage facilities decreased by 0.4 to 23.3 billion m³ compared to the previous year. According to current plans, however, the working gas volume is to be expanded by a further 2.4 billion m³, the LEBG experts explain.
The full report is available on the LBEG website.