Gas focus as OMV remains adamant on Libya

Gerhard Roiss, the new head of energy sector giant OMV AG, has hinted that the company will reform its strategy.The businessman, who took over from Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer as CEO today (Fri), announced yesterday he assigned a team of firm-internal experts to review and possibly adopt OMV’s focus.Roiss explained it was likely that OMV will draw more attention to generating and trading gas instead of oil. His predecessor said recently OMV could increase its engagement in renewable energy technologies.The Vienna-based firm’s new chief made clear OMV will not pull out of Libya despite the current occurrences in the North African country.Up to one fifth of OMV’s overall oil production has taken place in Libya where rebels are currently fighting the troops of dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. OMV is one of a few firms which decided not to stop operations in the country completely after the uprising broke out some weeks ago. The company however withdrew most of its staff from the country.Roiss said OMV had “no precise information” on the situation in Libya and its effects on OMV’s oil production. The former OMV vice chief said the company will definitely not leave Libya. Roiss said he was optimistic that the situation in the unsettled country will clarify in the coming months. He added that the bloodshed in Libya was “very tragic and regrettable”.The new OMV chief’s statements come after Ruttenstorfer argued that OMV would not need to leave Libya – as suggested by several non-government organisations (NGO) and the Austrian Green Party – since it considered the sanctions which were implemented on the regime by the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).Ruttenstorfer also argued that OMV never did business with Gaddafi, his henchmen or the Libyan government but the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC).Roiss pointed out yesterday that 80 per cent of OMV’s overall oil production was happening in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) member states – countries which the new OMV CEO described has “safe markets” .Asked for his main targets as head of the company which was founded in 1956, Roiss said he wanted to lower its debt rate by around 15 per cent to 30 per cent.Roiss did not reveal whether he would launch another attempt to merge OMV with Verbund AG, Austria’s leading electricity provider.OMV has around 31,400 employees around the world. The firm achieved a turnover of 23.32 billion Euros in 2010, around 30 per cent more than in 2009. Net profits climbed by 61 per cent to 921 million Euros at the same time.OMV recently upped its stake in Turkish petrol station chain Petrol Ofisi by 54.14 per cent to 95.72 per cent.The Republic of Austria holds a 31.5 per cent interest in OMV via Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG.OMV is quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange’s (WBAG) Prime Market. One share was worth 31.73 Euros at 2pm today, up from 30.25 Euros on 23 February.