Leading the Pack in Energy Revolution: An Interview with Wintershall Dea COO, Dawn Summers

Leading the Pack in Energy Revolution: An Interview with Wintershall Dea COO, Dawn Summers

As the world geared up for Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2021, Egypt Oil & Gas Newspaper was eyeing the opportunity to speak with Dawn Summers, the Chief Operating Officer of Europe’s leading gas and oil company, Wintershall Dea. Mohamed Fouad, the CEO of EOG met with Dawn to discuss her strategic and technical insights on the latest developments that shape the energy transition pathway.

What are the strategies that you implement to keep growth plans going on?

We are transforming how we operate; the energy transition is gathering with pace, we need to be even fitter and stronger for our future: future-proofing our business so we are even more resilient.

What does that mean in practice? The first thing is we already merged two companies together a couple of years ago, which means that going into the difficult pandemic period, we were already set up to be resilient and robust. Secondly, we are intentionally a gas and oil company, not oil and gas. We have a gas weighted portfolio, which sets us up for the energy transition and to deliver on net zero goals. We believe that gas should be seen as a strong pillar, alongside electrification, to deliver on energy transition. And we are already delivering high margin low emission barrels.

Thirdly, we set a clear sustainability strategy: our Energy Transition Pathway. We set ourselves clear goals. We aim for net zero upstream activities by 2030 for Scope 1 and Scope 2, across our operated and non-operated activities on an equity share basis. That’s important. It’s not just our operated equity. It’s across our portfolio. Not many companies are doing that, so we are quite proud of that approach. We’ve also committed to maintaining zero routine flaring and to reducing methane intensity below 0.1% by 2025, and we are making great progress!

From an overall carbon footprint perspective, we are investing in technologies like CCS and hydrogen to reduce our overall carbon footprint, including Scope 3. And here we are progressing multiple projects.

One thing that underpins all of this is building long term, trusted, reliable partnerships in our 13 countries. We have been in Egypt for more than 45 years now. We are a trusted and committed partner for Egypt and that will continue to be the case. We want to make sure that we continue to deliver on our targets, working with our partners and stakeholders who we have built very good relationships. I think that’s extremely important. We welcome Egypt’s focus on gas and also the increasing focus on energy transition. Together we have great opportunities to move forward.

So, that’s where we are. A resilient company, with a gas-weighted portfolio, low-cost low-emission barrels, we have a clear Energy Transition Pathway, and it is all enabled by fantastic long-term partnerships.

Definitely, one of your company’s priorities for Vision 2030 is becoming a net zero company, but are there any other top priorities for the company in the future?

Alongside energy transition, two key priorities are safety and financial robustness. We want to absolutely make sure that we maintain the safety and well-being of our employees. That is a top priority, every day, and particularly as the pandemic continues. Moreover, we are continually future-proofing our business, and ensuring financial resilience.

Corporate social responsibility is a part of Wintershall Dea’s DNA. Can you expand on that?

Our license to operate builds on our core values: We care, we trust, we are brave, and we are open-minded.

It’s important that we continue to invest in the communities in which we operate, and that we are a good neighbor.

We’ve got some great sustainable long-term projects that we continue to deliver on, and a great example of that is in Egypt. Near our Disouq operation, we have a shelter campaign, where we are supporting the construction of roofs for families and the community in need. And we have also set up a training program that will help build the skills necessary for the future, so that the families and their friends have the necessary skills going forward. It is very important for us.

What is the value of enhancing HSE standards among employees?

In my mind, it is simple. The fact that we all go home safely to our families and our loved ones at the end of every day is a top priority. So is that we continue to keep our hydrocarbon in the pipes and cause no harm to the environment. At the end of the day, safety is everybody’s responsibility. From the management board all the way to the frontline operations. Aiming to be the best at what we do every single day and that we apply the highest HSEQ standards to everything we do is our responsibility and our accountability. HSE culture and business performance, for me, go hand in hand.

How can state-of-the-art digital technologies contribute to sustainability and performance improvement at the same time?

In order to deliver on our performance and also to deliver new innovative solutions, we need digitalization and technology. Our industry is embarking on a transition. The world requires more energy, with fewer emissions, as the global population is growing. It is the biggest challenge we face. Imagination, innovation, collaboration, diversity of thought, new technologies and big data are all extremely important for us in order to deliver solutions for our future.  And we are implementing solutions. Like a digital energy management system, at our Brage and Mittelplate platforms in Norway and Germany. That helps us to understand and optimize energy use, improving sustainability. Or our Exploration Advisory Tool, which is an AI-powered search tool. We have rolled that out in Egypt already and it is improving exploration performance.

Technology is important, but so is people. Our biggest asset. So, the magic comes from digital and innovative technologies along with having the right people with the right skillsets at the right time together in order to deliver solutions for the future.

What are the main pillars of Wintershall Dea’s energy transition strategy?

We have set really ambitious goals: net zero for Scope 1 and 2 by 2030, zero flaring by 2030, and 0.1% methane emissions intensity by 2025. Moreover, investing in technology solutions for both our Scope 1 and 2, but also for our Scope 3 emissions. We have a four-pillar approach. The first pillar is about analyzing our portfolio across the globe, where we look at our carbon footprint and we decide whether we are going to buy new assets or whether we are going to sell assets, depending on the emissions intensity of that project or that operation.

The second pillar is about improving the efficiency of our existing operations and that’s about reducing our emissions and making our business more performance orientated. We have got a great example of that in Germany, where we now power our Mittelplate offshore operation completely from wind power. 100 percent renewable energy is supplying that offshore facility. Pillar three is focused on nature-based solutions and pillar four is what we mentioned earlier around technology investment. We are specifically investing in technologies like CCS and hydrogen, both of which have been talked about a lot in the past few months at the European Green Deal conference and recently at COP26. There is a clear consensus now that they are essential to deliver climate zero targets. So we’re investing a lot in that space, in projects like the Greensand CCS consortium in Denmark, or our hydrogen partnership with VNG in Germany. We believe we’ll be part of the solution.

Can you give a very defined one-statement quote about Wintershall Dea in Egypt?

“A trusted and reliable partner of Egypt: now and for the future.”


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