ISTANBUL (Dow Jones Newswires), Sep. 22, 2011
Energy group OMV will likely send small technical teams back into Libya next week to inspect its facilities and hopes to have oil production back to pre-war levels within 18 months, the company's Chief Executive said on Thursday, underlining the eagerness of the large energy corporations to safeguard footholds in the war-ravaged country's rich energy market.
Speaking to reporters at the OMV summit in Istanbul, OMV Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss said conversations with technical experts and company contacts on the ground in Libya helped OMV estimate the 12-18 month time frame for ramping up operations, adding that his company would like to expand Libyan operations, once the market had returned to some sense of normalcy.
"We have been in Libya since 1985. Our latest information tells us our people could go back next week. Libya is one of our core countries and we would like to expand there when we can," the chief executive said.
Before the unrest broke out in the North African country, OMV produced 33,000 barrels of oil a day in Libya, or about 10% of its total production. Production at the Libyan Shateira oil field, which is the only Libyan field operated by OMV, was shut down at the end of February due to the violent clashes between government and rebel forces. The group has said production is unlikely to start again this year.
Libya is an important production basin for Vienna-based OMV, Central Europe's largest oil company. The group has a long-term stake in Libya with 12 exploration and production licenses and Libyan petroleum contracts running to 2032 with the state National Oil Corporation (NOC). OMV's 2010 production output in Libya, where it holds 12 exploration and production licenses, was 33,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared with its total average 2010 output of 318,000 boe/d.
Roiss also said that OMV had scaled back production by "a few thousand barrels" in Yemen due to political upheaval, but stressed that operations were continuing.
The chief executive reiterated his confidence that the Nabucco pipeline project to bring Caspian gas to Europe would be realized, stressing that mergers with other projects were a possibility to enable the project to move forward.
"Nabucco will come. If at the end it will merge with another project I don't care but you have to build and you have to have a highway into Europe."
The Nabucco pipeline is expected to deliver around 31 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Caspian region and Iraq to central Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, bypassing Russia.
Nabucco has been backed by the EU as it is considered crucial to diversify the block's heavy dependence on Russian gas. Russia accounts for around 25% of the EU's annual gas supplies.
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