The leak in the leaking pipe system in Emlichheim, which was discovered at the beginning of 2019, tipped the scales: After large quantities of reservoir water leaked in the Lower Saxony region on the German-Dutch border, where Wintershall Dea has been producing crude oil for almost 80 years, the state of Lower Saxony announced consequences as well as a "borehole MOT". The Mining Ordinance for Deep Drilling, Underground Storage and for the Extraction of Mineral Resources by Drilling in the State of Lower Saxony (BVOT) was subsequently revised and will soon come into force.
According to the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG), which is part of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), important safety regulations for the oil and gas industry have been tightened. The new mining ordinance stipulates that oil and gas deep wells in Lower Saxony are to be regularly checked for leaks by external experts in the future - the so-called borehole TÜV. The companies responsible for the wells will have to monitor them uniformly and regularly in the future, according to the new BVOT. Any anomalies that arise during pressure monitoring must be reported immediately to the LBEG. In addition, the requirements for pipelines through which hazardous gases and liquids, brines and reservoirs are transported will also be tightened: in the future, expert inspections must be carried out regularly by external experts.
The oil and gas industry remains an important sector of the economy in Lower Saxony, emphasized Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony's Minister of Economics. Damage such as the leak in Emlichheim must not be allowed to recur. "We are creating a new safety standard with the revised Deep Drilling Ordinance," added LBEG President Carsten Mühlenmeier.