x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

OMV buys stake in big supplier of natural gas to northern Europe

OMV, the Austrian oil and gas company part-owned by Abu Dhabi, has bought a stake in a Norwegian gasfield from ExxonMobil, broadening its footprint in one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to northern Europe.

OMV, the Austrian oil and gas company part-owned by Abu Dhabi, has bought a stake in a Norwegian gasfield from ExxonMobil, broadening its footprint in one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to northern Europe.

The American super major sold to OMV its 15 per cent stake in the offshore Aasta Hansteen field for an undisclosed sum. OMV followed up the purchase by increasing its stake in the infrastructure project designed to get the gas to its export markets.

"We are well on track to establish Norway as a core country in our exploration and production portfolio," said Jaap Huijskes, the OMV executive board member responsible for exploration and production.

The company holds seven licences to drill for hydrocarbons off Norway. It also holds eight exploration licences in the adjacent Barents Sea. The development of the Aasta Hansteen field is in the preliminary engineering stage, and a final investment decision on the project is expected in the fourth quarter of this year. It is estimated to hold 40 million to 60 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of gas, and up to 1 million boe of condensates.

Norway's Statoil is the majority holder of the field, and ConocoPhillips of the United States holds a 10 per cent stake.

Norway is a major exporter of natural gas to Europe's largest economies, where the fuel is used to generate electricity in power plants. France, Germany and the United Kingdom receive about a third of their gas from the Scandinavian country. In tandem with its investment in the gasfield, OMV increased its share in the Norwegian Sea Gas Infrastructure (NSGI) project from 6.2 to 7.9 per cent. NSGI will consist of processing plants and pipelines that link the field to the main export pipeline system. As with Aasta Hansteen, the final investment decision on the project will be taken in the fourth quarter.

OMV is owned in part by the International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), an investor owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. Last October, Ipic spent €327 million (Dh1.47 billion) to raise its share of OMV from 20.4 to 24.9 per cent. OMV and Ipic are co-owners of Borealis, an Austrian petrochemicals company.

Borealis, in turn, co-owns, with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), Borouge, an Abu Dhabi polymers company.

Last month, OMV and the German producer Wintershall agreed with Adnoc to appraise a gas and condensate field near Shuweihat Island in Abu Dhabi. If the field proves commercially viable, the three companies intend to form a consortium to produce from the field, which holds sulphur-rich sour gas.

fneuhof@thenational.ae