OMV boss rejects Libya pull-out appeals

OMV chief Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer has made clear a retreat from Libya is not on the firm’s agenda.The Austrian company is one of a few firms which are still getting oil from the North African country where the troops of political leader Muammar al-Gaddafi are combating opposition groups calling for democracy.Ruttenstorfer said yesterday (Weds) OMV would not leave Libya. The businessman argued his firm would respect sanctions which were recently introduced by the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).He added that business contracts must be fulfilled at the same time. Ruttenstorfer said: “We have got our responsibilities. (…) People are deciding about the political situation in a country, not companies.”Non-government organisations (NGOs) and the Austrian Greens recently appealed to OMV to withdraw from Libya immediately considering the apparent breach of human rights in the country. Operations in Libya account for approximately 10 per cent of the Vienna-based firm’s total production.Greens leader Eva Glawischnig said OMV’s business activities in Libya were “irresponsible”. She claimed: “Money invested in Libya and generated by producing oil there is blood money because it goes straight to the country’s dictatorial regime.”The Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) agreed with the country’s strongest opposition parties, the Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), that political decision-makers should not involve Austrian companies’ activities despite the bloodshed.ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll warned of an “exaggerated reaction”. The minister is in charge of OMV politically as the Republic of Austria holds a 31.5 per cent interest in the energy sector giant via Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG.Ruttenstorfer, who will resign as OMV CEO at the end of next month after having been at the helm for nine years, argued OMV has never done business with Gaddafi or the Libyan government but the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), the state’s oil company.Reports have it Austrian diplomats want an escrow account set up where money paid for the right to produce oil in Libya could go as of now until a new political leadership has been found.Around 20 per cent of Austria’s overall oil imports of the past few years came from Libya. Soaring car fuel prices across Austria have been linked to the volatile situation in North Africa. Motorist associations like ÖAMTC and Arbö have however also accused oil firms and petrol station managers of introducing price increases regardless of developments on the global market.One litre of regular car fuel cost an average 1.37 Euros in Austria yesterday. Car clubs pointed out that price rates at motorway petrol stations were significantly higher.OMV stopped producing oil in the Shateira field in the east of the country last month, but is continuing its activities in Murzuk in the west.OMV was founded in 1956. The company previously named ÖMV has 31,400 employees around the world today. Ruttenstorfer recently revealed that the firm aimed to invest a total of 2.7 billion Euros in its facilities and projects per year until 2015.