OMV May Sell Exploration Assets in Russia as Focus Tightens on Caspian Oil

OMV AG, central Europe’s biggest oil company, is in talks to sell exploration assets in Russia as it focuses on the Caspian region and the Middle East.

“In Russia, all we have is exploration, but it isn’t one of our core regions and we are mulling how to pull out,” Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer told journalists in Vienna today, without giving any more details.

OMV entered the Russian exploration market in 2006 through its OMV Petrom SA unit, which acquired a 74.9 percent stake of Ring Oil Holding & Trading Ltd. It has been exploring eight exploration blocks in the Saratov Region, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southeast of Moscow, and two in the Komi region, approximately 1,200 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Petrom in August announced that it had discovered oil and gas in the Lugovaya-1 exploration well. Tests showed flow rates of 2,500 barrels a day of light sweet oil in one zone and two additional gas bearing formations, it said. The find may be as much as 80 million tons, or 586 million barrels, the Natural Resources Ministry said in October, without further classifying the reserves.

According to Russian resource laws that define strategic deposits, the state has the right to take back licenses on discoveries exceeding 70 million tons of recoverable reserves.

OMV aims to shift its focus in production and exploration to the Caspian region and the Middle East by 2015, the company said during its Capital Markets Day in Vienna today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zoe Schneeweiss in Vienna at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net; Stephen Bierman in Moscow sbierman1@bloomberg.net.

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