German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

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Oil and gas prospecting and extraction


A6B4 gas rig near Dogger Bank. Photo: BfN
A6B4 gas rig near Dogger Bank. Photo: BfN

Oil and gas prospecting and extraction activities in German waters have so far largely been restricted to the North Sea. Most of the test drillings have failed to uncover commercially exploitable resource deposits.

Drilling takes place from fixed or mobile rigs, using water-based or oil-based drilling fluids. With water-based methods, drilling debris and flushing water are disposed of in the sea. With oil-based methods, they are disposed of on land for environmental reasons.

Oil and gas extraction in German seas

The only active oil rig in the German North Sea (Mittelplate) is situated near to the coast in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. It was approved before the creation of the national park and is therefore covered by an exemption.

Natural gas has been extracted on Dogger Bank since 2000. The gas is piped directly to the mainland. 

Between 1993 and 2009, gas was extracted at the mouth of the River Ems (in the Dukegat channel) on the unmanned Manslagt Z1 gas rig. Dismantling of the rig began in 2012.

In the German Baltic Sea, oil was extracted from 1984 to 2000 via the now dismantled Schwedeneck A and Schwedeneck B oil rigs some 4 km off the eastern coast of Schleswig-Holstein.

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