OMV plans to boost its operations in Kurdistan as more major international oil companies defy Baghdad and enter the autonomous north.
OMV even keener on Kurdistan
The Austrian company, which is part-owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company, last year struck oil in Bina Bawi, one of its three exploration blocks.
It is now in discussions with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to start developing the find.
"We're currently discussing with the Kurdish oil minister the appraisal plan for the next exploration year, starting in March," said Jaap Huijskes, the director of exploration and production. "It's very likely that will lead to two further appraisal wells and early production facilities."
The company is "definitely" open towards entering alliances with other international oil companies (IOCs) in Kurdistan, Mr Huijskes said. DNO, a Danish company that has completed a merger with RAK Petroleum, expressed a similar interest in forming partnerships in Kurdistan, making UAE-linked companies potential targets for oil majors looking for a way into the region.
Last month, France's Total confirmed its interest in Kurdistan, after ExxonMobil had blazed a trail by gaining concessions to six exploration blocks in the north. The US company has since been barred from participating in Iraq's upcoming licensing round, as Baghdad continues to pursue a policy of blacklisting oil companies that sign contracts with the KRG.
Like ExxonMobil, Total is heavily invested in oil production in the south. It stands to risk losing those concessions, and being barred from new licensing rounds.
The terms offered in the fourth licensing round appear insufficient to prevent the big IOCs looking north.
"The interest in Kurdistan is that there are plenty of gas and oil reserves there and contractual conditions are better," said Christophe de Margerie, Total's chief executive.