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Dr. Georg Wachtel – General Manager, OMV Exploration & Production, Abu Dhabi

Dr. Georg Wachtel explains how OMV is contributing to the growth of the UAE’s oil & gas fields, the company’s successful partnership with Wintershall in the development of the Shuwaihat gas field, and the organization’s potential bidding in the re-licensing of ADMA-OPCO in the coming year.

What obstacles and opportunities have you identified since OMV entered Abu Dhabi’s oil & gas industry?

OMV has a rich history tied to the development of Abu Dhabi’s oil & gas field developments. In 1994 the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) purchased OMV Group shares and to date owns 24.9 percent of OMV’s shares. Due to this partnership it has been our intention to see how we can become more active in Abu Dhabi. Fast-forward 21 years and Abu Dhabi has very large reserves and is producing a healthy 2.5 million barrels/day and has ambitious targets to increase its production rates to 3.5 million barrels/day by 2018, which is very positive news for integrated, international oil and gas companies, like OMV, which are active in the upstream and downstream business.

In 2010 I was placed in charge of E&P in Abu Dhabi on behalf of OMV, and in my expert opinion, our targets have shifted over the years due to market fluctuations, as well the demand to decrease imports and increase indigenous oil production. What we see is that recently there has been more demand to increase the production of gas, which is an obstacle because most gas fields in the Emirates are sour. In this regard, one of our most prominent projects was working on the Shah Field Development in partnership with Occidental Petroleum Corporation and the appraisal of the not-yet-developed offshore fields northwest of Abu Dhabi. Overall, we see that there is an opportunity for OMV to play an increasing role in the development of Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry.

What makes OMV a competitive partner in the development of Abu Dhabi’s oil fields?

In other parts of the world, such as Pakistan, we have been extremely successful in exploring and producing gas. We have gained respect within the industry because of our expertise and knowledge. Moreover, many of the gas fields in Pakistan were sour gas fields, which have given us the wherewithal to enter more demanding gas markets, like Abu Dhabi, and help develop their sour gas fields. Ultimately, this has led to two very successful projects in Abu Dhabi and we are looking for more opportunities.

What recent projects in Abu Dhabi has OMV participated in?

There has been steady progression for OMV’s involvement in the local industry across the value chain over the years and in 2012 OMV partnered with Wintershall for a 50/50 deal for the appraisal of the sour gas and condensate field in Shuwaihat. This field is an important development of a gas and condensate field in the western region of Abu Dhabi, as well as the Middle East, and is playing an increasingly important role for the growth of the organization. This project is ongoing and under a technical evaluation agreement, which is a pre-concession agreement. Should it become an actual concession the project would need to be evaluated by ADNOC. We are also collaborating with ADNOC on a project in north Al Ain that we began in 2013, which was the first pure exploration contract in Abu Dhabi since the 1960s. We are proud that we are working as a 60 percent operator for this project and this is a great running operation contract and we have conducted seismic data this year and are preparing for the drilling phase, which will take place this coming year. These activities demonstrate that we are a partner and a force to be reckoned with in Abu Dhabi because of our technical expertise and sound understanding of how the local industry works.

How do you believe that OMV Group is bringing something unique to ADNOC?

The OMV Group is an Austrian organization that has transformed from a fully publicly run company to a partially private organization with various shareholders, including ADNOC. We continue to possess the spirit of a national oil company, which gives us an understanding of the way that ADNOC functions, but we also understand the intricate relationship we have with our shareholders.

Our past experience working with ADNOC has given OMV the ability to work competitively in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, we use our past projects in Austria and Pakistan, for example, as learning platforms for the projects we do in collaboration with ADNOC. ADNOC has set some ambitious targets to develop fields in the northwest region of the world and we hope to contribute with our expertise, as well as bringing in our pool of talent into the organization.

Where do you hope to see the organization over the next year?

Over the last year the organization has made many strategic decisions to ensure that OMV grows locally and internationally. Our recently elected CEO, Dr. Rainer Seele, along with Mr. Johann Pleininger, our new Head of Upstream, is in the process of reviewing our new E&P strategy and this information will be released next year. Moreover, we hope to continue to develop our professional relationship with ADNOC and become more involved with offshore projects in the northwestern region of the emirate and we look forward to becoming a potential bidder in the relicensing of ADMA-OPCO in the coming year!

How has your professional experience been in Abu Dhabi?

As a representative of OMV Exploration & Production, I am extremely proud of how the company has progressed and is developing its partnerships in the emirate. I believe that the UAE as a whole is an extremely diverse nation, which leads to many innovative ideas at the work place and lends itself to a more dynamic workplace where our employees can grow professionally. Moreover, the safety of the nation and transparent business environment allows for the company to grow at a steady pace.

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