In June 2020, Wintershall Dea gained a new Chief Operating Officer, Dawn Summers. Among her responsibilities, Dawn oversees the company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa businesses. Dawn’s 25-year career in the industry spans 20 years at BP as well as Genel Energy, Origin Energy and Beach Energy. She talked with Egypt Oil and Gas about priorities and challenges in her new role.

What attracted you to Wintershall Dea, and as you settle in, what challenges and opportunities are you most excited about?

Operating in 13 countries with employees from over 50 nations, Wintershall Dea is a diverse and forward looking company. Being part of a team which is committed to shaping the future of energy and securing growing energy demand in a sustainable way, and as Europe’s leading independent gas and oil company, is very exciting!

Around 70% of our portfolio is gas. This together with focussed investment in technology and innovation and underpinned by people – our technical expertise, the know – how of our employees and long standing partnerships – are key ingredients in producing our resources in the most energy and climate efficient way as possible.

I believe that we have a huge opportunity to play a significant part in the “jigsaw” of making the world a better place for us, our families, our children’s families and generations to come, by delivering energy to the highest environmental and safety standards.

As the board member responsible for Wintershall Dea’s operations in Egypt, what are your priorities for the country?

Wintershall Dea has a long history in Egypt. For over four decades we have been a stable investor and a reliable partner in the country. Alongside Russia, Germany, Norway and Argentina, Egypt is one of our 5 core, established business units producing on average 38,000 bpd in 2019.

My top priority for Egypt is to continue to be a reliable partner and to build on our existing, trusted relationships within the communities in which we operate.

2020 will see us continue to work on maintaining safe and efficient operations and delivering the most value from our operated assets, at Disouq and in the Gulf of Suez. At the same time, we continue to support our partner and operator BP as it progresses Raven, the final field in the offshore West Nile Delta project. We are also looking forward to starting exploration activity in 2020, as we plan to commence exploratory drilling at East Damanhour, an initial three year drilling program of 5 to 7 wells.

For the future, the Eastern Mediterranean is a promising region for new gas developments, with Egypt at its core. Wintershall Dea supports the development of a regional energy hub and is an active member of the East Med Gas Forum’s Industry Advisory Committee.

Can you give us an update on how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the oil price situation, is impacting Wintershall Dea and operations in Egypt in particular?

Our top priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our employees. As part of our COVID-19 response, we developed and implemented procedures that both minimized the risk to our employees and service providers and enabled the continued supply of energy to the market. We have done and will continue to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus.

Having been with the company a short while, I am very proud and impressed by Egypt’s achievements this year. Despite the challenging times that we face, the team have done an outstanding job at adapting to new ways of working and continue to deliver safely and efficiently. Not an easy task and it’s testament to the business’ strong leadership, team spirit and supportive culture, and also, the pre-investment made by Wintershall Dea in “smart” operations, digitalization and IT infrastructure.

Following the signing of the concession agreement for East Damanhour in February, what are your plans for progressing exploration?

We were delighted to sign a concession agreement with His Excellency the Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla, for exploration of the East Damanhour block. The block is in the onshore Nile Delta near to our Disouq development – an area we know very well and have infrastructure nearby, which means we are well placed to develop any discovered volumes.

As I mentioned earlier, the initial three year drilling program involves several wells that we plan to commence later this year. East Damanhour is a priority for us in Egypt and we are looking forward to getting started.

Do you have further growth plans in Egypt?

Our immediate focus is ensuring the continued, safe and efficient operations of our Gulf of Suez and Disouq operated assets, supporting our partner and operator BP deliver a safe start-up of Raven, and commencing the exploration drilling program for East Damanhour.

For the future, as I’ve said, we see the Eastern Mediterranean – with Egypt at its heart – as a promising region for new gas developments. We also support the development of a regional energy hub and are an active member of the East Med Gas Forum’s Industry Advisory Committee.

Longer term, we want to grow and will, of course, take our time to find opportunities that offer the best value and that are aligned with our wider portfolio and strategy.

You have worked internationally for many years now, in many countries around the world. In that context what are your impressions of the sector in Egypt?

My initial impressions of Egypt, albeit formed at a distance given COVID-19 travel restrictions, are positive. For example recent economic reforms and the E&P sector modernization program. I also believe that this has been a joint industry and government effort, and His Excellency Tarek El Molla has done a lot to bring the sector forward.

Wintershall Dea is playing a role. For example, Sameh Sabry, our Manging Director for Egypt has just been made joint chairman of the Egypt Oil and Gas technical committee. This is great news and very much in line with our desire to contribute for the benefit of the sector in Egypt overall.

And looking at the future, what role do you see for an Eastern Mediterranean Energy Hub and the development of the industry?

The hub development, centred on Egypt, is indeed another reason to be optimistic. Clearly Egypt has the location, infrastructure, and political will to make a hub happen, as well as having attractive undeveloped resources. We support the development and are playing an active role in the East Med Gas Forum’s industry advisory committee. For us, the ability to use Egypt as a base for wider activities in the region is very attractive.

How exactly the current crisis will play out in Egypt and impact its future development is hard to predict but what we can say is, the fundamentals are in place.

On a different issue: Wintershall Dea was recognized at EGYPS 2020 as an employer that champions diversity and inclusion. Is this, and women in energy and in leadership, something you want to personally push forward? 

I am a huge supporter and strongly believe that companies that choose to put diver sityand inclusion – in its widest sense – at the top of their agenda have a more engaged workforce, encourage innovation and achieve better business outcomes.

So, I am very pleased that Wintershall Dea has been recognized as an employer that champions this very important topicand is a strong promoter of women in energy.

Finally, can you give us a little insight into Dawn Summers, not the COO but the person? What is important to you outside of the office?

My family are my most important priority. I am also a big fan of travel, exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. As an engineer, I consider myself very fortunate to be part of an industry that has enabled me to visit and work in many different parts of the world.

I also love the outdoors and in particular, sailing. Being out on the water brings a great sense of freedom and release, and I rather enjoy sailing in choppy waters, so maybe it’s also good practice for being a gas and oil COO right now!