Oil drilling in the national park: from wadden sea and mountains

Schleswig-Holstein’s green environment minister wants to prevent new oil drilling in the Wadden Sea. The energy company involved will not accept this.

Seals are still lying here, tomorrow there may be drilling Photo: dpa

The energy company Deutsche Erdol AG (DEA) may not drill any more exploratory wells in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. This was decided by the Ministry of the Environment in Kiel. The requested exploratory drillings are "not approvable", the ministry said referring to a current legal opinion.

According to the National Park Act, such interventions in the national park are generally prohibited, said Environment Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Monday evening before the Environment Committee of the state parliament. For more than 30 years, the former RWE subsidiary DEA, sold in 2015 to the Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, has been operating an oil platform on the Mittelplate sandbank in the national park that was later created.

At around 100 million tons, the deposits there are considered the largest in Germany, and only a third has been produced to date. The license is valid until 2041. With the four test wells applied for, the Group intends to explore further suspected deposits of around 20 million tons.

According to DEA, the minister is entering new legal territory with this approach. However, the current legal opinion is not yet available to the group, a spokesman said: "As soon as it is available, it will be carefully examined and evaluated." Until now, the Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology, which is the mining authority responsible for all four northern German coastal states, had decided DEA applications according to mining law. This "does not provide for a refusal of permission".

Habeck, however, invokes the precedence of the National Park Act with the new expert opinion. Therefore, a lengthy legal process through the instances of the administrative courts is likely to follow.