Oil and natural gas production in Germany continues to decline sharply, shows an annual report for 2020 published by the Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG). It cites further reductions in drilling activities, concessions, geophysical measurements and production in the past year while noting that expansions of underground storage facilities for natural gas are planned. The study, “Oil and Natural Gas in the Federal Republic of Germany 2020” offers a current overview of the country’s oil and gas exploration and production, available reserves and existing and planned underground storage facilities. Active drilling projects have fallen to seven, down 75 percent compared to 2019. In the same period, the area of permitted fields has decreased by around 25 percent to 35,500 square kilometres. In addition, no geophysical measurements to explore the subsurface for crude oil or natural gas took place in 2020. Compared to 2019, crude oil production fell by 1.4 percent to 1.9 million tonnes and raw natural gas production by 15 percent to 5.6 billion cubic metres. Deposits located in Lower Saxony still account for 94 percent of the raw natural gas extracted in Germany. Domestic production, however, only accounts for 5 percent of the nationwide demand for natural gas. “The energy transition that has been adopted is a process that will take years,” said LBEG president Carsten Mühlenmeier, adding that oil and natural gas will remain indispensable for some time.
In the midst of the Energiewende, Germany relies still heavily on imports of fossil fuels, as its domestic resources are largely depleted, or their extraction is too costly. However, the planned decarbonisation of all sectors by 2050 should all but eliminate fossil fuels from Germany’s energy consumption. Future dependence will focus on renewable electricity or sustainable fuel imports, such as green hydrogen.