Questions about Wintershall’s involvement with National Socialism
Since January 2021, it has been known that BASF subsidiary Wintershall AG intends to become the main tenant of a building in Hamburg’s HafenCity, where the denk.mal documentation center on Hamburg’s Nazi and deportation history is to be built at the former Hanover train station. Against this background, we ask:
- From 1930 onwards, Wintershall AG supported National Socialist organizations, including the “Society for the Study of Fascism”, the Keppler Circle, the Himmler Circle of Friends, Reichsführer SS Himmler, the Hitler Youth, the NS Kraftfahrkorps, the SS, the SA, the SS Security Service (SD), NSDAP Gauleiter, among others, with financial contributions. How much did Wintershall AG spend per year and in total from 1930 – 1945 to finance Nazi organizations or individuals, and what would this amount be in today’s monetary terms?
- Wintershall AG used forced laborers in its operations during the Nazi era, including concentration camp prisoners, prisoners of war, and Jews. In which operations did Wintershall AG use how many forced laborers in Germany and occupied countries, and what efforts has Wintershall AG made to date to identify these forced laborers and compensate them?
Questions on the evaluation of the historical role of IG Farben and the use of Zyklon B in the Shoah
BASF was one of the co-founders of IG Farben. This corporation was closely intertwined with the Nazi state. IG managers developed the four-year plan for Hitler to prepare for war; Otto Ambros even held the position of Wehrwirtschaftsführer. The company supplied the “Third Reich” with the most important war goods and maintained its own concentration camp in Auschwitz. The murder weapon also came from IG Farben: Zyklon B came from its subsidiary Degesch.
Nevertheless, BASF claims on its website (https://www.basf.com/global/de/who-we-are/history/chronology/1925-1944/1939-1945/kampfstoffe-und-zyklon-b.html) that Carl Wurster, who sat on the Degesch board of directors for IG Farben at the time, did not know that Zykon B was used in the concentration camps not as a delousing agent but as a murder weapon. Nor should the enormous demand for Zyklon B by the Nazis have puzzled him, “because the fact that more and more people were housed in camps in the course of the war meant that it was to be expected that the demand for delousing and other pest control agents would increase.” My questions on this:
- Does BASF also want to claim that all other IG Farben managers knew nothing about the actual intended purpose of Zyklon B in the camps?
- According to BASF, who in the ranks of the industry even knew at the time that Zyklon B was being used to gass concentration camp prisoners?
- On which historical sources does BASF base the claim that Degesch did not actually belong to IG Farben, but remained part of the Degussa Group?
Questions about Wintershall Dea and planned IPO:
- When is Wintershall Dea’s IPO planned?
- In which countries is Wintershall Dea involved in the exploration for and/or extraction of shale gas and/or oil? Please indicate direct interests through subsidiaries and/or indirect interests through joint operations with other companies.
- What volume of oil and gas is extracted by means of fracking in the respective countries in which Wintershall Dea is active? What volume of water is consumed by the extraction processes? What additives are mixed into the water?
- Taking all fossil fuels into account, scientific studies have shown that fracking of shale gas is responsible for more than 50 percent of the global increase in methane emissions during the last decade. Consequently, fracking is a significant cause of the increase in global warming. Over a 20-year period, the impact on global temperature increase of methane is 84-87 times greater than that of CO2. There has also been increased attention to the local impacts of fracking on water, soils, air, and the health of local communities. It is precisely these destructive and deadly effects of the endeavor, as well as the dangerous potential of fracking-induced seismic activity, that have led to fracking being largely banned, or at least severely restricted, within Europe. Wintershall Dea, however, with its headquarters in Germany, a country where fracking is banned, uses the technique outside of Europe and yet is portrayed by its CEO as a climate leader and presents itself in its 2020 sustainability report as part of the solution for a socially just and environmentally sustainable future. How can this discrepancy be justified from BASF’s perspective?
- Does BASF know to what extent the portfolio optimization mentioned in Wintershall Dea’s 2020 Sustainability Report will be achieved by investing in infrastructure projects such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)?
- Does BASF see any benefit from investing in capital-intensive infrastructure projects with a low return on investment such as CCS (low sensitivity to economic fluctuations, tax advantages, etc.)?
- What types of nature-based CO2 offset solutions does Wintershall plan to invest in? Where exactly are these to be implemented?
- What is the social and environmental assessment for both nature-based offset solutions and CCS projects? What social, political and environmental criteria will Wintershall Dea consider when deciding on the feasibility and desirability of nature-based offset solutions and CCS projects?
- Has Wintershall conducted a preliminary social and environmental assessment of the Greensand CCS project in the Danish North Sea? What criteria were considered in the certification of the Greensand CCS project?
- How did Wintershall involve the communities living along the coast in the decision-making process on the Greensand CCS project and in the assessment of the known social and environmental risks of CO2 storage?
- Are there plans for commercial use of the captured CO2, and if so, how does Wintershall plan to use the CO2 commercially? Please indicate whether there are plans to use it for Enhanced Oil Recovery and/or fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and indicate the locations where it will be used. If so, where will the CO2 be used for this purpose?
- According to Wintershall Dea, DNV GL has confirmed the suitability of the Nini-West reservoir “for the annual storage of 0.45 million tons of compressed CO2 per well over ten years.” At the same time, “In the long term […] capacities for CO2 storage of about 3.5 million tons per year are to be developed here by 2030”, also according to its own information (source: https://wintershalldea.com/de/newsroom/meilenstein-fuer-ccs-projekt-greensand-erreicht, last accessed: 21.4.2021). How does Wintershall Dea plan to expand the reservoir’s storage capacity almost tenfold within barely a decade, even though its suitability has only been confirmed for a smaller storage capacity? Will there be other CO2 storage sites? If so, where will these be built? Who will conduct the feasibility studies for these and what social and environmental criteria will be used to make a decision?
- What volume of water is consumed to store the CO2 in greensand and build the CCS infrastructures (pipelines, platforms, drills, storage, etc)?
- How much CO2 is emitted in the manufacturing process of the CCS infrastructures (pipelines, platforms, drills, storage, etc.) without counting the stored CO2?
- In the 2020 Sustainability Report, Wintershall Dea writes that it is committed to a “socially acceptable energy supply” (source: https://m.marketscreener.com/news/latest/Sustainability-Report-2020-Commitment-to-environmental-protection-social-affairs-and-transparency-32891702/, last accessed: 4/21/2021). How does Wintershall respond to the social protests against its energy supply?