OMV CEO, Ex-German Chancellor in Call for Better Russia/EU Relations

Austrian oil and gas firm OMV is banking on better relations between Europe and Russia after making several deals in recent months designed to strengthen its partnership with Gazprom – the owner of the world's biggest natural gas reserves.

After signing a deal with Gazprom relating to the Nord Stream pipeline, agreeing to participate in Siberia's Achimov 4 and 5 gas projects and inking a memorandum of understanding on planned oil supplies, OMV this week hosted former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder at a conference to discuss current geopolitical challenges and the future of Europe's energy markets. Monday saw both Schröder and OMV CEO Rainer Seele underline the importance of good relations between Europe and Russia in front of 350 guests at Vienna's Hofburg Palace.

"Russia plays a central role in the question of how we Europeans can secure our energy supply. Norway and Russia are the most secure and reliable energy partners for Europe", Schröder was quoted as saying in an OMV statement published late Monday.

Seele explained that his firm was "striving" to contribute to stability in Europe and Russia.

"We stand for security of supply of oil and gas. Security of supply means finding partners, achieving broad diversification and overcoming barriers. Security of supply also means investments such as those in the Nord Stream II pipeline project."

Schröder, who has served as chairman of the European-Russian Nord Stream consortium since 2006, said that he supports OMV's strategy.

"I believe OMV's strategy of engaging in Russia is correct – both in terms of the planned construction of the Nord Stream II pipeline as well as gas exploration in Siberia. This engagement is completely in the spirit of longstanding close Austro-Russian cooperation in the energy sector. As Europeans we need to establish deeper economic and political ties with Russia," Schröder said.

OMV signed a multi-party shareholder agreement with Gazprom for Nord Stream II in September and also agreed to participate in the development of Areas IV and V of the Achimov formation of the Urengoy oil, gas and condensate field in Russia. Nord Stream is a twin pipeline system that has the capacity to transport up to 1.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.



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